It will take a turnaround at several different positions in order for the Virginia Cavaliers to rebound from their 2-10 season a year ago. But the unit in need of some of the biggest improvement is the offensive line.
In 2016, the Cavaliers allowed 36.0 sacks, which ranked fifth-most in the ACC. They also finished dead last in rushing yards. For rapid development in these areas, the Virginia coaching staff will turn to a pair of graduate transfers – John Montelus and Brandon Pertile.
“Everything’s trending in the right direction,” offensive line coach Garret Tujague said according to The Daily Progress. “They’ve done an amazing job with our football performance staff and preparing themselves and getting ready. They’re both at about 320 [pounds], which is right where I want them. They’re moving really good; they’re strong, they’re powerful, they’re quick.
“But like one famous man once said, everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth. So I’m looking forward to them getting hit in the mouth and seeing how they react to that.”
Montelus and Pertile transferred from Notre Dame and Oklahoma State, respectively, and if all continues to go as planned, then the pair will be starting in Week 1 against William & Mary.
On the first day of summer practice Friday, Montelus was at left guard. A former 4-star recruit, he played just six games for the Fighting Irish, which includes two where he appeared on defense.
Pertile lined up at right tackle at Friday’s practice. Virginia head coach Bronco Mendenhall and Tujague are familiar with Pertile from back when they recruited him to play for BYU out of junior college. He has played in nine Division I games, including six as a freshman at Georgia State.
The two graduate transfers will compete with five incoming freshman for playing time along the Virginia offensive line.