CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 SPORTS) -- The opening of fall camp was also a return to Charlottesville for Bronco Mendenhall after spending the last few weeks with his father, Paul, before he passed away last weekend.
"My dad was my best friend," Bronco said when speaking with the media after Virginia's first fall practice Friday night, "Growing up we worked side-by-side and I didn't really ever have to look outside of his example to know how to conduct myself."
Mendenhall said his father was battling dementia, which prevented him from ever coming from Utah to one of Virginia's games. The Virginia coach shared stories of his father's whistle at his games growing up, which was a sign of his approval from the stands.
But even from afar, Bronco could feel the impact Paul had on the Wahoos' culture.
"One of my guiding principles of less drama, more work, he wasn't much for drama, he just liked results," Mendenhall said, "And so I think I've passed on, put it this way, I'm working to pass on all those lessons because I think they help young people grow."
Bronco returned to Charlottesville just an hour before the team meeting on Friday to seven cards signed by every player on the team. During what Mendenhall called an "amazing challenge", it has been his team and the players that have picked him up.
"My healing will come through my team and I love being with them," Mendenhall said, "They've grown and matured in such a way, to be the recipient of advice and care-giving by young people has really been humbling."