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Virginia stays in-house to fill coaching void

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Bronco Mendenhall didn’t have to look far to find someone to fill the hole on his Virginia coaching staff.

The football program announced in a press release that Mendenhall has promoted Vic So’oto (pictured, No. 37) to defensive line coach.  Last season, his first with the Cavaliers, So’oto, who played his college football for Mendenhall at BYU from 2005-10, served as a graduate assistant.

So’oto replaces Ruffin McNeill, who left Charlottesville earlier this month for a spot on Lincoln Riley‘s staff at Oklahoma.

“Vic was Ruffin’s understudy for the last year-and-a-half,” Mendenhall said in a statement. “He was my very first commitment at BYU when I became the head coach. He was a very good player for us and someone who has experience playing in the NFL.

“He’s very passionate. He is very knowledgeable about defensive football and our system. He knows the defensive line play in our system, inside and out. He’s a great teacher and fits perfectly and seamlessly into this position because he was taught and mentored by Ruff this past year. Our defensive front won’t miss a beat.”

Oklahoma confirms hiring of Ruffin McNeill as DT coach

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One of the most influential mentors in Lincoln Riley‘s coaching career is officially coming to help out his protégé.

Wednesday afternoon, reports surfaced that Ruffin McNeill would be added to Riley’s first OU coaching staff. Not long after, the football program indeed confirmed that McNeill will fill the void in the staff.

McNeill will serve as the Sooners’ defensive tackles coach as well as carry the title of assistant head coach. OU’s defensive line coach the past two seasons, Calvin Thibodeaux, will focus his coaching attention on the defensive ends.

McNeill had been the line coach at Virginia since December of 2015. He also carried the title of assistant head coach with the Cavaliers.

“Ruffin McNeill is one of the best people, not only in the world of coaching, but also in the world, period,” UVa. head coach Bronco Mendenhall said in a statement. “I’ve really enjoyed his friendship, the exchange of ideas and the camaraderie that we’ve had together. Ruff has amazing relationships with anyone he’s met. He’s got a great football mind. I am appreciative of all the work he put in helping us to begin to make Virginia an excellent football program.”

Prior to his brief time in Charlottesville, he was the head coach at his alma mater, East Carolina, from 2010-2015 before being abruptly kicked to the curb shortly after the season ended. From 2000-2009, he was an assistant at Texas Tech. Riley and McNeill were on the same staff at Tech from 2007-09, then Riley served as McNeill’s offensive coordinator at ECU from 2010-14 before moving on to Norman.

The school noted in its release that Riley expects to finalize other coaching staff titles in the coming days.

LINCOLN RILEY
“I’m very excited that Ruffin McNeill is joining our coaching staff. Personally, I have a great history with him from our time together at Texas Tech and East Carolina. We’re getting an extremely high-quality person and coach. Our team and fans will love the personality and energy he’ll bring to our program.

“Ruffin possesses a distinguished record defensively, and I’m excited to see him work alongside defensive coordinator Mike Stoops and the rest of our staff on that side of the ball. I view the defensive line as one of the most important — if not the most important — position groups on the field, and he’ll be a big benefit to our student-athletes and to our program as a whole.”

RUFFIN MCNEILL
“I’ve been at every level and have done it a lot of different ways. I’ve been fortunate to work with great people. I’ve had the big-picture view of a head coach, I’ve been a defensive coordinator and I’ve been a special teams coordinator, so I think I have some things I bring to the table. I absolutely love coaching the players. I love that part. I’m excited to do that here. Can’t wait to get on the field, get in the meeting rooms, talk strategy, talk life. That’s what I’ve always been known for; being a hard worker and a team guy. I believe it’s team and family first, last and always. Lincoln and his wife, Caitlin, are family to me. I’ve known him since he was 18 years old when he was a freshman at Texas Tech.

“I believe in working players harder than they’ve worked before, but also loving them more than they’ve ever been loved. That’s my base. And I always am clear with my expectations. ‘Here’s what I expect and why, and here’s what we’re achieving.’ It’s not just the ‘what,’ but it’s also the ‘why’ and the ‘how.’ I treat the players like they’re my sons. Not just my particular group, but the entire team. I’m looking forward to building those relationships here at OU.”

Report: Lincoln Riley to add Virginia’s Ruffin McNeill to OU staff

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With Bob Stoopsretirement and Lincoln Riley‘s ascension to head coach, Oklahoma has a hole to fill on its coaching staff.  Reportedly, OU will look to fellow Power Five football program to fill the void.

McNeill has been the line coach at Virginia since December of 2015. He also carries the title of assistant head coach for the Cavaliers.

Prior to that, he was the head coach at his alma mater, East Carolina, from 2010-2015 before being abruptly kicked to the curb shortly after the season ended. From 2000-2009, he was an assistant at Texas Tech. Riley and McNeill were on the same staff at Tech from 2007-09, then Riley served as McNeill’s offensive coordinator at ECU from 2010-14 before moving on to Norman.

The offensive coordinator at OU prior to Stoops’ decision to step down, Riley is expected to continue calling plays for the Sooners. Offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh will continue on in his role as assistant coordinator.

Riley’s younger brother, Garrett Riley, is the quarterbacks coach at Kansas and has been mentioned as a potential candidate to join his sibling at OU at some point in the coming months.

Former Mizzou QB reportedly staying in the SEC and transferring to Vanderbilt, not Virginia

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Former Missouri quarterback Marvin Zanders is evidently not leaving the SEC and transferring to Virginia after all. Make no mistake though, while he is changing his eventual destination, the transfer is still on.

The former Tigers signal-caller had previously announced plans in late January to pursue a graduate transfer to the Cavaliers but a recent report from Gridiron Now says that he will instead be transferring to Vanderbilt this offseason. A source told the site that family in the area and living in Nashville played a role in the change in commitment.

Zanders has reportedly already graduated from Mizzou and is expected to be eligible right away in 2017 after obtaining the necessary waivers to play at another SEC school.

The Commodores do return starter Kyle Shurmur at the position so it does not seem that Zanders is headed to Vandy in order to become the full-time starter. He is a lot more athletic option behind center — throwing for 114 yards and rushing for 198 yards and two touchdowns last year — so it seems like a backup job with spells of being the change of pace guy are in store if Zanders can pick up the offense quickly in fall camp.

While it’s a little surprising in this day and age that Missouri would consent to an unrestricted transfer of a quarterback to another team in the conference, we’ll at least be able to add an interesting storyline for when Vandy hosts the Tigers on November 18th this season.

Virginia says two graduate transfers will not enroll

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If Virginia was planning on adding some weight to the offensive depth this fall, then the Cavaliers must go to Plan B. Two graduate transfers that were previously heading to Virginia will not enroll with the program.

Offensive linemen Colin McGovern (Notre Dame) and quarterback Marvin Zanders (Missouri) will not follow through on enrolling with the Virginia program, Virginia head coach Bronco Mendenhall announced. Virginia confirmed two other graduate transfers — offensive lineman John Montelus from Notre Dame and Brandon Pertile from Oklahoma State — will enroll.

No reason has been given for why McGovern and Zanders will no longer enroll at Virginia.

Virginia also announced the departure of quarterback Sonny Abramson, who remains enrolled and will continue his education at Virginia. He did not appear in any games in 2016.