Davis should be a starter this season, shortly after a highly productive first year of 20 receptions for 515 yards and five touchdowns. At 6 feet 7, it was a mismatch in coverage, and its unusual length enabled Davis to hold a handful of acrobatic receptions in a confined space.

His injury was especially daunting as the Cavaliers stepped into the spring and focused on improving the deep passing game. Last season, Virginia completed 34 passes for 20 yards or longer, finishing 10th out of 15 teams in the ACC.

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“He’s a really good player,” Mendenhall said during a Zoom call to the media on Monday, adding that the injury came when Davis, who sustained a similar injury in high school, stuck his feet with a defensive one Tangled back. “We expected and knew that he could do even more than a year ago.”

Davis started seven of the eight games he played and led the ACC in yards per reception (25.8). At the yards, he was ranked seventh among the newcomers nationwide. He was the only player in great college football with at least 500 seats for 20 or fewer receptions.

Ra’Shaun Henry and Dontayvion Wicks are next in line to start at the external receiver.

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Henry moved from Saint Francis and played nine games last season, intercepting seven passes, four of which were for touchdowns, and averaging 29.4 meters per reception. He had a season high of 95 yards with a three-catch touchdown on December 5 in a 43-32 win over Boston College.

Wicks did not play last season due to a pre-season camp injury. In 2019, he played 10 of 14 games as a freshman, three passes for 61 yards and one touchdown.

“What I saw is Ra’Shaun Henry had an amazing spring and Dontayvion Wicks, who sat outside last year, basically does a really good job too,” said Mendenhall. “And so we swap Lavel one for one for Dontayvion. We hoped to have both. “

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The Cavaliers finished seventh in the ACC last season, averaging 260.6 yards per game behind second quarterback Brennan Armstrong. The double-threat left-handed player threw 2,117 yards and 18 touchdowns in nine games with no time on the concussion log.

Prior to Davis’ injury, Virginia had expected to have five players back who had at least one touchdown last season. Davis’ five touchdowns last year are the most among the players on the current roster. His first season included a 90-yard touchdown catch against Abilene Christian.

Billy Kemp IV, a senior, led the Cavaliers in yards (644) and catches (67) and is supposed to start over.

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“The only way to avoid this is by not training in the spring,” Mendenhall said of the injuries to Davis and Bennett who played extensively on the outside after moving from Georgia Tech to Virginia and carried all newbies on to The Yellows Jackets in tackles (17) before a lower body injury ended his 2019 season.

Bennett’s injury, according to Mendenhall, came from a non-contact drill when he planted his foot and tried to change direction.

Sophomore Hunter Stewart is a candidate to start at an outside linebacker seat, with Bennett unavailable. Noah Taylor, a Silver Spring senior, is the other starter after a season in which he set a program record for the longest interception return by a linebacker (85 yards for a touchdown).

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If Bennett and Davis can’t play when the Cavaliers face Notre Dame, the remainder of the regular season schedule includes games against Pittsburgh on November 20 and Virginia Tech on November 27 in this year’s annual Commonwealth Cup showdown at Scott Stadium.

“The ACLs are taking a long time, right?” Said Mendenhall. “It’s a tough rehab, a tough recovery. In Lavel’s case, he did it before in high school, so he knows how to do it. “