CHARLOTTESVILLE — At every turn the past few weeks, Virginia Coach Mike London has tried to temper expectations for his first-ever five-star recruit.
When a reporter asks a question about freshman running back Taquan Mizzell, inevitably London will try to mention the other first-year players who have a chance to get on the field this year. London even tried to change Mizzell’s nickname from “Smoke” to “Mist,” joking that it was appropriate after he beat Mizzell in a game of pickup basketball recently.
But with every slick spin move and lightning-quick cut the past three days of practice, the intrigue behind what Mizzell could offer during his first season on campus only grows. Even London can’t deny it, try as he might.
“I gotta give it to him. He lived up to the nickname,” London said Tuesday. “He ran pretty well. He’s a young man that’s very talented.”
Mizzell is the latest highly touted Virginia Beach recruit to land in Charlottesville, joining cornerback Demetrious Nicholson and defensive end Eli Harold as a centerpiece to London’s rebuilding efforts at Virginia. But his role, and how much he’s able to contribute this year, remains to be resolved.