CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — Andre Levrone made a big impression on Virginia coach Bronco Mendenhall last year in spring practice. When the season started, however, he was limited by injuries and finished with only eight receptions for 126 yards.
The senior wide receiver hopes to have a major impact on the field in his final season.
“I’m very hungry, just like my teammates. We’re all hungry,” the speedy 6-foot-1, 220-pounder said.
Levrone turned heads as a freshman in 2014, making several highlight reel catches in traffic and showing a promising combination of physicality and the ability to separate from defenders. After that, neither he nor his teammates dreamed his 15 catches that season would be his career high after three years.
In 2015, he caught two passes in the opener, then missed the rest of the year with an injury.
Several offseason conversations with wide receivers coach Marques Hagans, and several more with Mendenhall, have left Levrone with a simple charge as the Cavaliers try to rebound from woeful 2-10 record last season.
“There’s three words that coach Mendenhall has shared with me that he thinks will help my season be the most successful as it possibly can be, and that’s just to be durable, to be consistent and to be productive,” he said. “Each one of those go hand-in-hand.
“If I’m able to be durable, he believes I will be consistent, and if I’m consistent, I’ll be productive and that will be great for our offense and great for our team.”
For the Cavaliers’ offense and quarterback Kurt Benkert, who loves to throw deep, the idea of having Levrone healthy and available all season is somewhat tantalizing, quarterbacks coach Jason Beck said.
“He has that big-play potential,” Beck said. “If he’s able to be healthy and make the big plays, that adds a whole other level to our offense. … Like anybody, we’d love to hit shots because that’s how you score points, and we really struggled with that last year.
“‘Lav’ is one of the skill guys we have right now that can do that.”
Benkert shares Levrone’s desire to finish with a big splash.
“He’s a really good player. He makes really good plays. He’s fast. He’s strong. He’s like 225 as a receiver, so he’s a guy that not many people should be able to cover,” Benkert said, adding that other Virginia receivers also have big-play ability, but “having that little bit different of a freakish athlete is good to have.”
The praise and accolades are all things Levrone has heard before. Now, the senior from Laurel, Maryland knows, is his last chance to earn that praise in games.
“I’ve been able to show things in practice and then I might get hurt here or there. That’s just the cards I’ve been dealt. I can’t control that. That’s just in God’s hand, but I’m very confident this year,” he said. “… My coaches know what I can do. It’s been out on film in practice. I just want to be able to show it to the world this year.”
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