The Virginia Cavaliers had seven players named to the three All-ACC teams and one honorable mention. It was a disappointing end to the regular season for the Hoos, as they dropped their last four games that denied them a chance to play in the ACC Championship Game. However, UVA is still bowl-eligible, and we will have to wait and see where they land at a later date. Nevertheless, the Hoos have to be ecstatic for their awarded players.
Dontayvion Wicks and Jelani Woods were named to the first team. Wicks, who missed all of last season due to an injury sustained in preseason camp, took on a much larger role than expected. He finished the season with 57 receptions, 1,203 yards, and 9 touchdowns. He was an integral part to a UVA offense that ranked third in total yards. Due to his big-play ability, Wicks was consistently turning his receptions into explosive plays. He was named ACC Receiver of the Week twice, thanks to his efforts against Duke and Georgia Tech.
Jelani Woods, who transferred from Oklahoma State, fit perfectly in Robert Anae’s system. Known mostly for his run-blocking ability before arriving to Charlottesville, Woods would make the most of his new opportunity, finishing the season with 44 receptions, 598 yards, and 8 touchdowns. His receiving yardage and touchdowns both ranked first amongst ACC tight ends. Woods was named ACC Receiver of the Week when he racked up 122 yards and a score on 5 receptions against Illinois.
The second team recognized Olesegun Oluwatimi, Keytaon Thompson, and Nick Jackson. Oluwatimi was a crucial part of the offensive line as the man in the middle. He was awarded ACC Offensive Lineman of the Week after the win over Illinois where he had nine pancake blocks. Since Oluwatimi’s arrival, he has started all but one game (sat out vs Old Dominion in 2019 due to a hand injury). Also up front was Bobby Haskins, who was named an honorable mention. He was named ACC Offensive Lineman of the Week in the win over Duke, where he had seven pancake blocks. The offensive linemen were a major factor in orchestrating one of the most potent offenses in the nation.
Keytaon Thompson has had an interesting run at Virginia. He originally transferred from Mississippi State as a quarterback, but Armstrong would beat him out for the starting position. The Cavalier staff experimented with Thompson, listing his position as “football player” (FBP). For the 2021 season, Thompson amounted to 1,220 all-purpose yards. He led the Hoos with 78 receptions (fourth-most in the ACC) and compiled 990 receiving yards.
Nick Jackson was the only defensive player from Virginia to be named to any team. His 117 tackles paced the ACC, and he also added 2.5 sacks. Though the defense was lackluster at times, Jackson was a bright spot. He was named to the All-ACC third team in 2020 and Preseason All-ACC. He was a force when it came to stopping plays underneath, as he had seven games with 10+ tackles.
On the All-ACC third team were Brennan Armstrong and Billy Kemp IV. Armstrong shattered multiple passing records in this air raid offense. His 4,444 passing yards ranked third in the country and easily toppled Bryce Perkins’s single-season passing record of 3,538 set in 2019. He threw for over 300+ yards in all but one game. He beat Kurt Benkert’s passing yards in a game mark (455) on three occasions (554 against UNC and 487 against Louisville and Pitt). His 31 passing touchdowns is another school record, surpassing Matt Schaub’s 28 passing touchdowns in 2002. The team relied heavily on the arm and improvisation of Armstrong, and he is easily the MVP of the team. The reason Armstrong is on the third-team is due to the fact the ACC had some elite quarterback play this season from Pitt’s Kenny Pickett and Wake Forest’s Sam Hartman. Nonetheless, this should not take away from what Armstrong accomplished on the season.
Billy Kemp IV finished the season with 74 receptions, 725 receiving yards, and 6 touchdowns. His 74 receptions tied him for fifth in the ACC. Although the speedy receiver was not used much as a deep threat, he was used in dump-off situations, and his agility and elusiveness allowed him to evade tacklers and make important plays. He was used frequently in jet sweeps, and it was evident the coaches trusted him to make plays, as there were possessions throughout the season where he would be used as the focal point. He was a reliable receiving threat that opened the field up for the big plays.
Overall, it was an up-and-down year for the Hoos. The Cavaliers played better than what their record states. Regardless, football season is not over for UVA, and we will be able to see this team go at it one last time for the 2021 season.