As many speculated he would, running back Taquan 'Smoke' Mizzell
announced at a press conference on Tuesday afternoon at Bayside High School in
Virginia Beach that he would play his College Football in the ACC for Coach Mike London and the University of Virginia Cavaliers.
The 5-foot-10, 187-pound Mizzell
picked the Cavaliers over more than 20 offers that included such schools as
Boston College, California, Clemson, Illinois, Miami (FL), Notre Dame, Ohio
State and Tennessee among others.His
final three consisted of UVA, North Carolina and West Virginia.
Recently, Rivals.com named Mizzell
a five-star prospect and he moved up 23 spots in the national rankings to #20
overall, which also made him the top all-purpose running back in the country
from the Class of 2013.
some backs in the country that have got a whole lot more numbers than he does,
but you're not going to find a more talented back.He can run inside and outside, has excellent
speed, marvelous hands, the ability to avoid the big hits and the ability to
make five-yarders 50-yarders," Bayside Head Football Coach Darnell Moore says of the versatile Mizzell.
"He reminds me of Marshall Faulk from the standpoint of
being able to do everything and do everything so well as far as run inside, run
outside, catch the ball out of the backfield.He also reminds me of Barry Sanders in that ability to make people miss,
and Barry was truly phenomenal in that regard."
Since Rivals began ranking players across America in
2002, only five others from the Tidewater area have been named five-star
football prospects - - Kai Parham, Michael Johnson, Marcus Vick (all in 2002),
Percy Harvin (2006) and Tyrod
Taylor (2007).At #20 overall, Mizzell is the highest rated Hampton Roads player since Harvin, who went on to win two National Championships at
the University of Florida and currently plays in the NFL with the Minnesota
becomes the first five-star recruit for UVA since offensive tackle Eugene
Monroe chose the Cavs in 2005.Monroe,
who hailed from New Jersey, was ranked #3 in the nation and went to be chosen
in the first round and eighth overall in the 2009 NFLDraft by the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Last season while playing on a bad ankle that
limited him, Mizzell rushed for 992 yards and 21
touchdowns on 212 carries. That followed
a sophomore campaign where he earned Second Team All-Eastern Region honors by
rolling up 1475 yards on the ground and scoring 22 total touchdowns.During the postseason, his play went up a
couple notches, gaining 593 yards and scoring six touchdowns on 92 carries
during the regional playoffs in helping Bayside win its first regional title
Over the spring and summer, Smoke shined at numerous
invite-only camps and combines, such as Nike's 'The Opening,' in Oregon as well
as the Gridiron King in Florida and the Rivals Five-Star Showcase in Georgia.In January, he will participate in the U.S.
Army All-American game in San Antonio, Texas.
UVA has built a solid pipeline with Bayside
players in a short period of time.Currently on the Cavs' roster are three players from the Virginia Beach
program in starting sophomore corner Demetrious Nicholson, starting sophomore
linebacker Henry Coley and incoming freshman defensive back Anthony Cooper.