Virginia Tech, Virginia and the rest of the ACC aren’t the only programs mining talent in the state of Virginia–the SEC does a pretty good job too. Here are the best five Virginia pickups of the past five seasons (2010 through 2014) who made the biggest splash, in our opinion.
Editor’s note: Saturday Down South’s references to ratings follow the 247Sports.com composite rankings.
1. Justin Hunter, WR, Virginia Beach (Va.)
- Virginia rank: No. 1 prospect in 2010
- SEC school: Tennessee
- The skinny: Hunter played three seasons for the Volunteers before declaring for the NFL Draft in 2013 and being picked in the second round. He caught 18 passes and 4 TDs as a rookie for the Tennessee Titans last fall, and he surpassed the 1,000-yard mark in his third season with the Volunteers.
2. Ego Ferguson, DT, Chatham (Va.)
- Virginia rank: No. 3 in 2010
- SEC school: LSU
- The skinny: Ferguson redshirted as a true freshman and then played three seasons. He really shined as a full-time starter in 2013 and finished with 58 tackles and was effective as putting a ton of pressure on the opposing quarterback. He is expected by some experts to be picked in the second to third round of the NFL Draft.
3. Da’Shawn Hand, DE, Woodbridge (Va.)
- Virginia rank: No. 1 in 2014
- SEC school: Alabama
- The skinny: We know, we know … Hand hasn’t played a snap for the Crimson Tide yet. It doesn’t matter, this is a massive pickup for Alabama, and eventually Hand could slide to the top of this list. He has the potential to be an instant-impact type of guy if the playing time is available. He’ll have a great career at Alabama.
4. Jonathan Allen, LB, Ashburn (Va.)
- Virginia rank: No. 2 in 2013
- SEC school: Alabama
- The skinny: When you get on the field as a true freshman at Alabama, as Allen did in 2013, it says something. Allen had 15 tackles and racked up several negative-yardage plays, and his influence will only continue to get bigger as his career moves forward. Expect him to be a star before he leaves.
5. Matt Rolin, LB, Ashburn (Va.)
- Virginia rank: No. 6 in 2013
- SEC school: Florida
- The skinny: We’re going with Rolin here because–despite the injury issues that kept him off the field as a true freshman–he is quite a get for the Gators. If he can rebound from his injury issues of the past, he could be a monster defender for Florida. He was a key recruiting pickup in his class.