Aug. 8, 2013
Name: Brandon Phelps
Vitals: 6-0, 190-pound junior
Hometown: Damascus, Md. (Damascus High School)
College Career: Phelps, who wears jersey No. 21, was one of 12 true freshmen to play for Virginia in 2011. As a sophomore, he started all 12 games at strong safety and finished fifth on the team in tackles, with 48. He also broke up three passes.
"I think it's a big difference," Phelps said after practice Wednesday evening. "I'm playing in the middle of the field and trying to read the quarterback, so I truly feel like an actual free safety."
That's not the first move Phelps has made at UVa. He began his college career at cornerback, then shifted to safety on the eve of training camp last summer.
"I think now, being comfortable with the defense," Virginia coach Mike London said, "he has an opportunity to be a really good safety."
Safeties often must be more physical than cornerbacks, and that presented a challenge for Phelps early on last season.
"It wasn't like he couldn't do it," said Anthony Poindexter, who coaches the Cavaliers' safeties. "It's just a different style that you have to play, playing safety rather than corner.
"He had 12 games last year to get used to playing safety, and I think he's more comfortable this year. After a whole season of playing, a spring and now coming into training camp, I think he's starting to understand the position a lot better, and I'm looking for a big year out of him."
Phelps, whose work ethic in the weight room earned praise from strength and conditioning coach Evan Marcus, put on about 10 pounds in the offseason. Phelps said he feels like a safety this year and not like a converted cornerback.
It helps, he said, "having coaches like Coach Dex and Coach Tenuta. They're pretty much defensive gurus, to be honest with you. But I still feel like I'm learning. I'm just trying to be a student of the game and learn everything I can."
Veteran Group: UVa's first-team secondary returns intact from 2012. Phelps and Harris started every game at safety. Two other juniors, Demetrious Nicholson and DreQuan Hoskey, started 12 and 10 games, respectively, at cornerback. Sophomore Maurice Canady started in Hoskey's place in the other two games.
"We have a lot of game experience," Phelps said. "We've just been hanging out together, trying to learn together, and it's going to make us that much better playing together."
After two years together, Phelps said, he and Harris have developed a strong chemistry.
"Definitely," Phelps said. "We hang out a lot in the locker room. Off the field, on the field, we have a nice bond, and I think it's definitely going to make us better players this year."
Phelps, who chose UVa over such schools as Alabama, LSU and Ohio State, is rooming during training camp with one of the secondary's new members, true freshman cornerback Kirk Garner, who's also from Maryland (Baltimore). During the school year, Phelps said, he'll be living with Nicholson and junior wide receivers Darius Jennings and Dominique Terrell. All four played as true freshmen in 2011.
Family Tradition: Phelps' parents, Gary and Kathy, are 1984 graduates of UVa. Gary Phelps, who was an all-state wideout at Cave Spring High in Roanoke, played football at Virginia for Dick Bestwick and, later, George Welsh.
Mueller Shining for Surging CavaliersWomen's Lacrosse3/29/17Freshman midfielder Sammy Mueller is the second-leading scorer for No. 15 Virginia, which hosts Oregon on Wednesday night at Klöckner Stadium.Cook Ready To Make Up For Lost TimeFootball3/27/17After missing last season with a heart condition, UVA outside linebacker Malcolm Cook has been cleared to play again.Offensive Line Looking to Raise Its GameFootball3/24/17Guard Jack McDonald and tackle Jack English are the returning starters on the offensive line for Virginia, which starts spring practice Tuesday.
Director of News Content
A 1985 graduate of UVA, White worked at the Richmond Times-Dispatch until July 2009. He was honored six times as the state's Sportswriter of the Year.
Jeff White: Cook Ready To Make Up For Lost Time
Football | 3/27/2017
After missing last season with a heart condition, UVA outside linebacker Malcolm Cook has been...
Jeff White: Offensive Line Looking to Raise Its Game
Football | 3/24/2017
Jack McDonald and Jack English are the returning starters on the offensive line for Virginia,...
Atkins Honored by DC Touchdown Club
Football | 3/8/2017
The DC Touchdown Club announced Wednesday (March 8) that current Virginia freshman running back...
UVA Football Season Ticket Sales Start March 8
Football | 3/3/2017
Season tickets for Virginia’s 2017 seven-game home schedule will be on sale for renewals...
2017 UVA Game at Boise State Moved to Friday, Sept. 22
Football | 3/2/2017
ESPN and the Mountain West Conference have announced that the Virginia football game at Boise...
Virginia Adds Two More FBS Transfers to the Fold
Football | 2/21/2017
Virginia football head coach Bronco Mendenhall has added two more FBS transfers to the program.
Jeff White: Cavalier Football Notebook
Football | 02/15/2017
Quarterback Kurt Benkert, who began his college career at East Carolina, learned valuable lessons...
Coach's Corner with Bronco Mendenhall Returns Tonight
Football | 03/27/2017
Listen to Coach's Corner Live (Free)
Radio program on the Virginia Sports Network begins at 7:...
- Online Stores