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JOEL HAWKSLEY | The Roanoke Times
2013 Timesland boys athlete of the year: Daniel Hamm of Fort Chiswell High School.
The Roanoke Times | File 2012
Daniel Hamm was the Mountain Empire District offensive player of the year.
Tuesday, August 20, 2013
Less than a month into his college football career, Daniel Hamm already has a highlight video.
Actually, there were other players in the video. However, in a two-minute, 29-second video from Virginia's third scrimmage of the spring, there was a limit to the number of plays that could be shown.
Hamm, named 2013 Timesland boys' athlete of the year as a senior at Fort Chiswell High School, was shown taking a pass from No.2 quarterback Greyson Lambert and breaking tackles in the middle of the field.
"We just had our meet-the-team day [Sunday] and his parents were there," London said. "I told them, ‘At first, I didn't know how to spell your son's name correctly, but I know how to spell it now, H-A-M-M.'
"He's done some nice things. He came here as a track performer who also wanted to try football. He's definitely turned some heads. His vertical speed is something special."
Hamm (5-foot-11, 190 pounds) rushed for 1,902 yards as a senior at Fort Chiswell, where he also caught six touchdown passes. In track, he was a two-time Group A state champion in the triple jump.
"He does have a skill set where people say, ‘Who is that guy?'" London said. "Everyone knows how to spell his name now."
London conceded that playing time might be scarce at running back, where Kevin Parks has rushed for 1,443 yards in two seasons and is backed up by three scholarship underclassmen.
"Because [Hamm] can run, he does lend himself to being able to do some other things, like running down on kickoffs or being involved in the return team," London said, "maybe not as a returner but as an up-back.
"He's interesting. Larry Lewis, who coaches the running backs, notices his skill."
Lewis also coaches the special teams.
"There's a lot of places we can put him," London said. "He's [Hamm] not in the BYU plan but he's kind of on that bubble between being in the mix or maybe having to soak a year."
London said that a scrimmage Wednesday will be used to determine which of the signees and other young players have a chance to play in the opener Aug. 31 and which ones are likely to be redshirted.
One of the Cavaliers' top in-state signees, cornerback Tim Harris, was sidelined recently with a groin injury and then had a lower-leg issue as soon as he returned to practice. Harris is iffy for the opener and maybe for the season.
London said that sophomore center Ross Burbank took snaps with the first team Saturday and appears to have moved ahead of walk-on redshirt freshman Jackson Matteo, who had been "banged up" but did practice Saturday.
It appears that fifth-year senior Billy Skrobacz, a walk-on who was awarded a scholarship in the preseason, is the frontrunner to start at fullback. Other candidates include true freshman Connor Wingo-Reeves and converted defensive lineman Vincent Croce.
Croce worked at tight end during a period when Jake McGee was sidelined with a shoulder "stinger," but London said McGee practiced Monday morning and played well.
London and Co. like what they see from Rob Burns, a 6-7, 250-pound sophomore who moved to tight end after playing in one game - for a total of four plays - as a freshman defensive end.
Burns had a leaping grab Saturday that got him into the same highlight reel as Hamm and joins McGee and converted fullback Zach Swanson in a tight-end corps that should fill UVa's needs.
"I think Rob was 6-6 and 190 pounds when he first got here," London said. "He looked like a stick. From a physical standpoint he wasn't there. Give him credit. He saw who we had in front of him and asked if we could try him out at tight end.
"Everybody talks about ‘Jake this' and ‘Zach that,' but [Burns] might be one of the surprises of camp."
Redshirt freshman Wil Wahee, praised for his work with the scout team last year, suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament and will miss the season. He was in competition for the fourth cornerback spot behind Tra Nicholson, DreQuan Hoskey and Maurice Canady.
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