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Saturday, June 29, 2013
Brown brings elite talent to UVa

By Craig Haubert

Virginia picked up its second five-star prospect Saturday with the addition of Under Armour All-American defensive tackle Andrew Brown (Chesapeake, Va./Oscar Smith). How will Brown, No. 3 in the ESPN 300 and the nation's No. 1 DT, perform at the next level? Craig Haubert breaks it down.

What he brings: He’s not the top-rated defensive tackle just because he has a body that takes up some space. The five-star defender is an explosive big man capable of being a handful in the trenches. He has good overall size, though he could benefit from further developing his frame. He possesses a good first step and can disrupt with penetration but also has the size and strength to take on blockers and hold his ground, though he does need to improve his hand usage. He can not only be a tough and active run defender, but the ESPN 300 prospect can also be a disruptive interior pass-rusher as he is capable of winning with quickness and power.

Andrew Brown
Five-star DT Andrew Brown has the talent to make an instant impact for Virginia and the potential to become one of the best DTs in the nation.

How he fits: Virginia has a new defensive coordinator this season with Jon Tenuta taking over, and Vincent Brown is now the defensive line coach. Some change is naturally in progress with the moves, and after being near the bottom of the ACC the past two seasons in sacks, a focus will surely be trying to get more pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Brown has the tools to develop into a consistently disruptive interior pass-rushing presence, which, in time, can help Virginia improve its ability to create pressure. The defense will also look to generally be a more attacking and aggressive unit under Tenuta, which the explosive Brown is capable of helping it do.

History at position: When you think about defensive linemen that Virginia has produced in more recent times, Chris Canty and Chris Long naturally come to mind, but ultimately, who cares about the history of the position? Those two can’t help Virginia get to the quarterback more or help it improve in the win column, so for a Cavaliers program that has seen two four-win seasons sandwiched around an eight-win campaign, the focus is on the present and near future. Eli Harold and Mike Moore give Brown some promising young players on the edge to work with, and while Brent Urban is getting ready to move on, David Dean is an interior player who shows some promise. The signing and developing of Brown gives this front a potential impact player who can help everyone along the D-line be more productive. This is a front with some talent, and as the players mentioned gain valuable experience, entering their junior seasons when Brown hits campus, the addition of the in-state five-star could really help strengthen the unit.

Prediction for performance: Competing in the trenches as a true freshman at the BCS level is no easy task, but one could expect that the Cavaliers will likely look for the talented Brown to contribute in Year 1. In adding size to transition to DT, he didn’t necessarily add good weight and, as mentioned, needs to rework his body composition some, but he’s already making strides to do that, which could allow him to be better physically prepared when he hits campus. He also needs to continue to develop technically in areas, but overall, the size and natural ability are there to allow him to work his way into the rotation early, even if it’s just as a situational interior pass-rusher to help them try to generate better pressure and gain the experience necessary to take on a bigger role. Several dynamics could dictate how much or how well Brown initially contributes, but in the long term, he is capable of developing into a key defensive presence in Charlottesville. While there are a lot of factors that can determine success, the five-star has the ability to be one of the top DTs in the ACC, if not the nation.

How the class is shaping up: At this point, only three five-star prospects have verbally committed and two of them are committed to Virginia. Brown joins safety Quin Blanding (Virginia Beach, Va./Bayside), giving the Cavaliers the top defensive tackle and safety in the 2014 class. It’s a particularly strong year at the top in the state with three five-star defenders available, and Virginia has been able to capitalize on that. Nine verbals now make up the class, which also includes a pair of four-star offensive guards. There is still a ways to go until national signing day, but coach Mike London has scored two huge commitments for his program. While they can’t help on the field in 2013 as the Cavs try to rebound from a 4-8 season, they could help to make this 2014 class even stronger and build excitement for the future in Charlottesville.