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Now listed as co-starter at tailback, Raynard Horne's talent 'was never a secret'

When Virginia released an updated depth chart Monday, perhaps one of the most intriguing developments was fifth-year senior Raynard Horne's listing as a co-starter along with sophomore Perry Jones. Coach Mike London spoke frequently during the past few weeks about the strong impressions Horne has made with his speed, but mostly his comments were in the context of how Horne's talents would aid the special teams as a kick returner.

Apparently, Horne raised more than a few eyebrows with his work among the tailbacks as well. For the first few days of training camp, it was unclear if Horne would be academically eligible to play this season. But his summer school test scores came back favorable, and now he's in line to receive a fair amount of carries on Saturday in the season opener against Richmond.

"Raynard has done a great job of doing the things that I've asked him to do over the summer academically, socially, from a football standpoint, and he's moved himself and put himself in a position where he warrants that close look that he may be the starter on game day," London said Monday. "He's done things in practices and scrimmages that make you do a double-take on him ... We're looking for that competitor, that guy, and thankfully for us he showed up here during the summer and into the early part of August."

Horne played in eight games last season, mostly on special teams. He did record one reception for 13 yards. Horne logged time in 11 games in 2008, though again, primarily on special teams. In fact, he was named the team's special teams' most outstanding player that season.

Horne will continue to play a large special teams role -- he and Jones will return kickoffs to start the season -- but his responsibilities appear to be growing.

Fifth-year senior quarterback Marc Verica was asked Monday if he would have been surprised had he been told in the spring that Horne would be listed as one of the Cavaliers' top two tailbacks heading into the season opener.

"I don't know if that really would have surprised me too much because anyone who's been in this program, especially guys in Raynard's class like myself, it was never a secret as to what Raynard's ability was," Verica said. "There's no doubt about it. Ever since he's been here he's, you know, unquestionably always been arguably the most athletic, talented person on the team, just as far as raw ability and natural speed, strength and size. It was just a matter of him kind of fitting in and buying in and really just kind of living up to his potential."

Said John-Kevin Dolce: "Pound-for-pound, (Horne) might be the strongest guy I know, and possibly the fastest guy I know. I'm really excited to see him get an opportunity to get out on the field and do what he does, and that' run. And run hard."

By Steve Yanda  |  August 30, 2010; 4:35 PM ET
 
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Next: John-Kevin Dolce to start over Matt Conrath in Virginia's 'three-man rotation' at defensive tackle

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