Cavaliers 'believe' they've finished a strong summer

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 SPORTS) -- For the second straight summer, the Virginia football team signaled the end of off-season workouts by swinging a sledgehammer. On Friday morning, it was Jordan Mack's turn to break the rock.

Afterward, Mack didn't talk to reporters who watched the Wahoos' Friday morning workout. But strength coach Shawn Griswold said the rising senior linebacker was an easy choice to usher in next week's start of preseason camp.

"When he's been through the lean years. And then through Bronco's first year, which was like the leaning out period of who wants to really be here, who wants to embody what UVA is all about," Griswold explained. "And then just the progress that he has made."

"His numbers. His work ethic. His everything," said rising junior running back PK Kier. "I think he fits the leadership role. He earned everything, and he earned to break that rock."

Griswold introduced the rock-breaking last July, at the finish of his first summer at UVA. A different member of the Cavaliers also broke a rock in the locker room after all eight of the team's victories last fall.

That eight-win season was the best at UVA since 2011. Earlier this week, the Wahoos were picked as the preseason favorite to win the ACC's Coastal Division. So on Friday, players admitted that finding motivation this summer was not a problem.

"I'm proud of the way we've attacked the workouts," said rising junior receiver Terrell Jana. "Coach Mendenhall at the start of the year said that we've got to work out, our workouts have to be ACC caliber. Championship caliber. So I think from the start, we definitely improved, and we maintained that standard."

"At this point, we don't need motivation. Because we know what we can do as a team," said rising senior receiver Joe Reed. "So those expectations, they're to be expected from us, because we know we're capable of a lot."

Friday was a milestone morning for Reed, as well. He needed 19 reps on the 225-pound bench press to reach 'black' -- the highest of UVA's five tiers of workout groups.

Reed finished with 20.

"That's one of the biggest goals we have here," Reed said. "I knew exactly what I had to do when I woke up this morning. Even got up a little extra early, because it's something, I just had to do it."

"He had that number. I have to get 19 to get into black. And it comes down to the last moment on the last day, and that's kind of how it works, right?" said Griswold. "And that's kind of how the conference is going to come down, probably come down to the last game. So for him to go do that and motivated to do that was pretty awesome."

Reed was also credited with coining the new catchphrase spread across everyone's chest Friday morning -- 'Believe.' Griswold got the T-shirts for the team.

"That's their thing. When it gets hard, they talk about believe," he said. "So I guarantee on the sidelines you're going to hear, 'believe, believe, believe.'"

"We're all motivated. We're all motivated for each other, and I think the shirt 'Believe' says it all," said Kier. "We believe in each other. We believe in the team. We believe in ourselves, and we believe that we can accomplish anything."



 
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