Bronco anticipates Walker’s debut, declares WR Davis likely out for UNC

By Jerry Ratcliffe

Virginia first-year receiver Lavel Davis Jr. (81) celebrates a touchdown against Duke (Photo: Erin Edgerton/ACC Media Services).

The long-anticipated arrival of Ronnie Walker Jr. to Virginia’s backfield is expected to happen this weekend against North Carolina.

Walker, a transfer running back from Indiana, had to wait out two NCAA appeals for instant eligibility, then once he was cleared to play against Wake Forest last week, the Hopewell native fell ill and couldn’t suit up.

Bronco Mendenhall said at his Monday presser that he is “anxious to have [Walker] back,” and that “we anticipate his possible return this week.”

Walker’s presence would give Virginia’s offense another weapon at its access, joining Wayne Taulapapa and Shane Simpson at the running-back spot, along with three quarterbacks that are running threats.

Meanwhile, Mendenhall said that 6-foot-7, 210-pound freshman wide receiver Lavel Davis, Jr., will likely miss his second straight game.

“He is most likely not available for this one as well,” Mendenhall said, but declined to reveal what is keeping Davis sidelined. Four UVA players missed the Miami game due to Covid-19 related issues, but the program is not permitted to identify those players due to privacy policies.

With Davis missing at Miami, that took away the Cavaliers’ chief downfield threat.

“It’s a factor in our ability to stretch the field vertically,” Mendenhall said, pointing out that transfer Ra’Shaun Henry stepped up in attempting to fill that void. Henry hauled in an apparent 24-yard touchdown pass late in the first half that would have given the Cavaliers a 14-7 lead, but the score was taken off the board when UVA was flagged for having an ineligible receiver downfield.

As pointed out in our game column, Virginia had two tight ends lined up on the line of scrimmage on the same side. Grant Misch was lined up tight in the formation, while Tony Poljan was also lined up on the line of scrimmage but flanked out to the left of Poljan, which “covered up” Misch and made him an ineligible receiver. Misch was down near the goal line when Henry made the catch.

Joey Blount (Photo: ACC Media Services)

There was no update on UVA defensive backs Joey Blount and Brenton Nelson, both injured in the Wake Forest game, with both missing the Miami game. Another defensive back, Darrius Bratton, was injured at Miami, but there was no word on his or left offensive tackle Ryan Swoboda’s status for the North Carolina game. Swoboda was also injured at Miami.

Mendenhall doesn’t meet with Virginia’s training staff for updates until later in the day on Mondays. The Cavaliers do not practice on Sundays.

In an unrelated note, the ACC announced Monday that Virginia will host Louisville at 8 p.m. on Nov. 7, which will mark the third consecutive game the Cavaliers will have played with an 8 o’clock start. The game will be televised by the ACC Network.

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