CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 SPORTS) -- In the middle of his post game news conference following Virginia's Belk Bowl win, Bronco Mendenhall announced junior cornerback Bryce Hall will return to Virginia for his senior season.
For players like Olamide Zaccheaus, Juan Thornhill and Jordan Ellis, Saturday's 28-0 Belk Bowl win is the last time they will take the field for Virginia. Hall could have been on that list as well, with some draft projections seeing him go as high as the first round in April's NFL draft.
“We’re very fortunate that he’s coming back,” Mendenhall said, “and I think he’s an exceptional player and exceptional person and made the decision very maturely, listened to all the feedback.”
"I'm more focused on," Hall said, "how can I give and share everything that this program's given me back to these coaches, this culture, and help build and leave it in a better place than when I started. I believe coach said we're just getting started and that's how we feel."
Hall, a second-team All-American by both the FWAA and the Walter Camp Football Foundation, leads the country with 21 pass break ups, including one in the 'Hoos Belk Bowl win. He also finished the regular season with 59 tackles, two interceptions and two forced fumbles. He was named first-team All-ACC last month.
After the Cavaliers regular season finale at Virginia Tech, Hall talked with Mendenhall and the team's NFL draft consultant and made his decision based on those discussions.
"After the Tech game," Hall said, "I had been thinking of it, and as time went on, I think it became a lot clearer."
Hall added that his decision was made before the Cavaliers made the trip to Charlotte for the Belk Bowl, but didn't want the focus on him before the biggest game of the season for the Cavaliers.
"Win of loss, it wouldn't have changed it," he said, "but, its so good to just leave this year on a high note and show what we're capable of moving forward."