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Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Blanding's pledge a strong start for Cavs

By Dave Hooker

It's time to take notice of Virginia.

By securing a commitment from Quin Blanding (Virginia Beach, Va./Bayside) on Wednesday, the Cavaliers have proven themselves worthy of securing elite prospects -- repeatedly.

Blanding, who is thought to be one of the top prospects in Virginia, brings immediate credibility to the Cavs' 2014 class. The ESPN Watch List safety from Virginia Beach (Va.) Bayside chose the Cavs over dozens of other scholarship offers.

Virginia did the same last year when it secured Blanding's teammate, running back Taquan Mizzell. Mizzell was the only ESPN 150 commitment Virginia landed, but its 2013 class was still stocked with talent. Of its 22 commitments, five were rated four-star prospects.

Securing in-state talent is goal No. 1 for the Cavs. However, they have also ventured elsewhere. One of Virginia's highest-rated commitments for the 2013 class was linebacker Micah Kiser from Olney (Md.) Good Counsel. The Cavs' first commitment of the 2014 class was defensive tackle Chris Nelson from Lakeland (Fla.) Victory. Clearly, they have expanded their recruiting base.

It seems third-year Virginia coach Mike London can sell his program and himself most anywhere. Prospects often cite a strong connection to the 52-year-old coach as a reason they chose Virginia.

London has a unique resume. He has coached at several schools in the East region, so he knows the recruiting hotbeds. He's also coached in the NFL. Prospects like to hear that.

London is also a former police detective. Prospects' parents like to hear that.

Virginia has more to sell than London. A top university, the educational offerings will lure prospects. Virginia is also the state school, even if it seemed Virginia Tech took that spot with its recent football success.

That success, however, is fading into the past. Long gone are Michael Vick and a national championship appearance. The distance between the two programs doesn't seem that far any longer. Virginia was 4-8 last season in an obvious rebuilding year. Tech was 7-6 and barely beat the Cavs, 17-14.

Recruiting wasn't quite as close. Tech finished the year ranked No. 20 in the nation. Virginia was No. 34. Blanding will help the Cavs close the gap.