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Names to watch in the transfer portal as Virginia looks to replenish its roster

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He’s aware of the offensive line situation at Virginia.

The Cavaliers are in need of replacements to fill out their front, and they could benefit from John Paul Flores’ experience.

“Anywhere I go, I’ll have to compete,” Flores, an offensive lineman from Dartmouth who is currently in the transfer portal, told The Daily Progress, “and you show your true colors and when you’re in competition, the best comes out. And hopefully, I’d get in the mix, but it’s up to me and how I play.”

Since former UVa coach Bronco Mendenhall stepped down last month, the Cavs have had four key offensive linemen of their own enter the portal. Center and Rimington Award finalist Olu Oluwatimi decided on Michigan, while starting left tackle Bobby Haskins bolted for Southern California.

Guard Joe Bissinger, who started four times this past season, departed for SMU, and right tackle Ryan Swoboda has reportedly visited Miami, according to 247Sports.

So, new coach Tony Elliott and returning offensive line coach Garett Tujague are in search of players to plug the vacancies on the o-line.

Flores said UVa is high on his list of potential destinations. He has an offer from the Hoos, and said he’s also earned offers from most of the schools in the Mid-American Conference as well as East Carolina, James Madison, Temple and Texas State. He said other Atlantic Coast Conference programs in addition to some from the Big Ten have reached out, too.

“What I’m looking for transfer wise, coming from the Ivy League, on and off the field is important,” Flores said. “Virginia, having a great business school and one of the best MBA programs, it’s a huge deal. Then, also competing at a Power Five level on the national stage is important.”

This past fall, the 6-foot-5, 295-pounder was an All-Ivy League second-team selection for Dartmouth’s conference championship squad, which finished ranked No. 20 in the final Stats Perform FCS Top 25. Flores started 20 games at left tackle for the Big Green between this past season and 2019.

The Ivy League didn’t play in 2020 due to coronavirus concerns.

He said he’ll finish up at Dartmouth in the spring, and then arrive at his new school this summer and play out his final two years of eligibility wherever he chooses. Flores said he’s eager to visit Charlottesville and would do so once he has a feel for his availability around his Dartmouth winter-term class schedule.

Here are three additional portal targets to keep an eye on:

Gary Smith III, DT, Duke

Within the ACC, UVa offered Duke transfer defensive tackle Gary Smith III on Jan. 4, according to his Twitter page.

The Blue Devils, like the Cavaliers, have experienced a coaching change since the end of the regular season. Duke hired former Texas A&M defensive coordinator Mike Elko to replace David Cutcliffe.

Smith III started nine games this past season for Cutcliffe’s bunch. A 6-foot-2, 320-pounder, he racked up 24 tackles to go along with 2.5 tackles for loss and a sack.

Andres Fox, OLB, Stanford

On Dec. 29, Stanford outside linebacker Andres Fox announced on Twitter that he earned an offer from UVa.

In limited action for the Cardinal this past fall, he had seven tackles, a tackle for loss and a pair of quarterback hurries. Fox is a native of Mobile, Ala.

Tre’mond Shorts, OL, East Tennessee State

Another offensive lineman from the FCS ranks, Tre’mond Shorts announced his decision to leave East Tennessee State on Dec. 13, and claimed an offer from UVa not long after.

Shorts, a redshirt junior this past fall, was a first-team All-Southern Conference selection for the Buccaneers.

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