DL Malani and WR Starling join 2020 UVA recruiting class

By Jerry Ratcliffe

Photo by John Markon

As expected, UVA conducted very little business on the second national signing day, adding two players to its 2020 football recruiting class.

The new additions bring the Cavaliers’ class to 15 players, as UVA welcomed wide receiver Derrick Starling of Nashville, Tenn., and defensive lineman Nusi Malani of San Bruno, Calif.

“Our emphasis was on finding the right fits for positions based on matriculation of particular positions,” said UVA coach Bronco Mendenhall. “With it being a smaller-than-usual class, it meant we needed to achieve that to continue build our depth and address future position needs.

“At the same time, we recruited quality individuals who have a desire, mindset and work ethic to help us continue our unbroken growth and who align with the principles of values of UVA.”

Malani is a 6-foot-6, 250-pound defensive end who was ranked the No. 15 player in the Bay Area by the San Jose Mercury News in that newspaper’s preseason top 40 ranking.

He posted 61 tackles (35 solo) this past season for Junipero Serra High School. Malani also had four sacks, seven tackles for loss and a forced fumble. He played junior varsity as a sophomore because of an ACL injury and joined the school’s varsity squad for the postseason, which included the 2017 CIF Division 2-AA state championship.

Malani was rated a three-star recruit by ESPN.com, Rivals.com and 247sports.com. He also played basketball and was on the track team.

Starling (6-0, 170), a wide receiver from East Nashville Magnet High, hauled in 34 passes for 454 yards and five TDs last season. He also rushed for 87 yards on a dozen carries (7.3 yards per carry), including one TD. 

He is also rated a three-star prospect by ESPN, Rivals and 247sports.

He also played basketball and was on his school’s track team.

“We were very pleased to add Nusi and Derrick to this class and it is interesting how they have diverse backgrounds regarding the recruiting process,” Mendenhall said. “Nusi has been a highly-targeted prospect after playing so well as a sophomore in his team’s state championship season. He’s played in a program that has produced Power-Five players and we loved his physical approach, mentality and leadership. He will be a good fit in a 3-4 scheme.

“Derrick blossomed late in his high-school career, didn’t attend summer camps, a bit of a diamond in the rough. We were fortunate to have one of our analysts, Zach Bradshaw, identify him. He’s an amazing athlete, fantastic track and field competitor who excels at sprints and the high jump. We feel he has the skills, and more importantly the desire and work ethic, to fit into our wide receiver room and develop along the same path that some of our recent players at that position have.”

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