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Bronco vs. Leavitt in Fenway Bowl; Another UVA starting lineman leaps into transfer portal

By Jerry Ratcliffe

Up until Thursday, Virginia coach Bronco Mendenhall wasn’t sure who he would be going up against in terms of a head-coaching matchup with SMU in the Fenway Bowl on Dec. 29 in Boston.

SMU has announced that its new head coach, Rhett Lashlee, will not coach the Mustangs in the bowl game. Instead, Jim Leavitt, who has been SMU’s defensive coordinator the past couple of seasons, will serve as the team’s head coach for the one game.

Leavitt was on former SMU head coach Sonny Dykes’ staff as defensive coordinator, but when Dykes moved on to become TCU’s head coach a few weeks ago, he did not bring Leavitt with him.

Leavitt is in his 40th season of coaching. He was Central Florida’s first coach in 1996 and he led UCF to 11 winning records in 13 seasons. Since then, he has made coaching stops as an assistant with the San Francisco 49ers, Colorado, Oregon, and Florida Atlantic prior to SMU.

Portal, portal on the wall …

Yet another Virginia player, starting right tackle Ryan Swoboda, has entered the transfer portal, making him the 22nd Cavalier to do so. That is the most players in the portal from any FBS program.

New UVA coach Tony Elliott could be in a bind if all three Cavalier offensive-line starters decide against returning. Who is going to protect quarterback Brennan Armstrong, who praised his offensive line all season long?

Swoboda was a regular starter at right tackle for the Cavaliers this season. He started all 10 games in 2020, played in 10 of 14 games for UVA in 2019 and appeared in 13 games in 2018.

Swoboda joins two fellow O-Line starters in the portal, starting left tackle Bobby Haskins and starting center Olusegun Oluwatimi, who was a finalist for the Remington Trophy, symbolic of the top lineman in the country.

Oluwatimi, who has already visited Michigan since declaring, has started 34 of the last 35 games for Virginia.

Haskins, who has scheduled a visit to Southern Cal, has started 20 of the last 22 games, plus played in 27 games in 2019 and 2018.

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