Bronco expecting 5 to 7 seniors to accept additional year of eligibility

By Jerry Ratcliffe

uva football

Bronco Mendenhall leads his team to the field. Photo courtesy UVA Athletics.

Bronco Mendenhall said on his season-ending radio show Monday night that he expects five to seven seniors will return to next year’s team due to the extra year of eligibility granted by the NCAA’s Covid-19 policy.

“Players now on our team are choosing whether they are NFL ready and want to pursue that, whether they accept the job offers now that they’ve graduated and have waiting for them, or if they want to return one more year,” Mendenhall said on his Coach’s Show on WINA Radio from Boar’s Head Resort.

Virginia had 25 seniors on this year’s team, which finished 5-5 overall and 4-5 in the ACC.

Mendenhall is in the process of conducting meetings with seniors, and he has set a deadline for those players on whether they want to return for an extra year or move on. At least four players have indicated they will not return, including graduate transfers Tony Poljan, Shane Simpson and D’Angelo Amos, along with longtime Cavalier Matt Gahm.

Wednesday is National Letter of Intent early signing day, and Virginia is expecting the majority of its commitments to sign, although some may sign in the coming days. If the Cavaliers can regain five to seven players from this year’s senior class, that would be a huge bonus. Mendenhall said the deadline for seniors to decide is about a week out.

“Then that’ll frame our existing roster,” the coach said. “Any positions we need to continue to [fill], I always like to save a few [scholarships]. The transfer portal is open now, there’s going to be a one-time transfer with no penalty that’s going to pass, I believe, and so here comes another level of kind of the free agency-ish market. So, there will be other roster additions, I’m sure will happen before we play.”

Mendenhall said several of the players expected to accept the extra year of eligibility have “significant roles,” which could raise UVA’s status for the 2021 campaign.

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