‘Next man up’ Zane Parr steps in for Cavs

By Jay Jenkins
The Daily Progress

It was obvious to every person in Scott Stadium two years ago

that defensive end Chris Long was Virginia’s best pass-rushing performer.

Last year, Clint Sintim assumed that role as he nailed the opposing

quarterback 13 times behind the line of scrimmage.

With Long and Sintim having moved on to the NFL, it is debatable which

player currently wearing a Cavalier uniform has the best ability to reach an

opposing signal-caller.

In a revelation that may surprise Virginia fans, defensive end Nate

Collins has the answer: Zane Parr.

“I think Zane is a great pass rusher,” Collins said. “He is probably the

best pure pass rusher on our team.

“He has a lot of speed. He sort of has the outside linebacker’s

mentality, so that makes pass rushing come second nature to him.”

That will certainly be needed in the weeks that lie ahead with sophomore

Matt Conrath likely out of action for up to a month with a high-ankle sprain.

Luckily for Parr, also a sophomore, he has gotten his feet wet in special

packages, namely on third downs.

After failing to make a tackle against William & Mary, Parr has

registered 13 stops over the past five games.

A pair of those tackles came after Conrath exited Virginia’s victory at

Maryland on Saturday.

“Perhaps the player who’s having the best year on our defensive team is

Matt Conrath, and that was an awesome job by Zane Parr, not only to go in for

Matt, but to go in on the side opposite where he usually plays,” said Virginia

coach Al Groh.

Parr said his limited playing time prepared him for what he encountered

in the base defense.

“Playing the nickel and dime stuff helped me a lot going in there,” Parr

said. “We always talk in practice about the ‘next man up’ and I was just ready

all throughout practices in case somebody went down.

“I knew, if I had to, that I could go in there and try to help out the

defense make plays.”

Virginia (3-3, 2-0 ACC) may

be without Conrath, quarterback Jameel Sewell (ankle) and tailback Mikell

Simpson (neck) as No. 11 Georgia Tech (6-1, 4-1) invades on Saturday.

Finding replacements, however, has been a harsh reality at Virginia in

recent campaigns.

“It’s a reality of the season,” Groh said. “Like so many things that we

think that we do that are positive for the team, very few of them are internally

created. We’ve learned all these things from somebody else who has exposed them

to us or have been willing to share them.

“I guess the first time I was really deeply involved in this type of team

attitude, I don’t remember the next man up or the words that we used, but it was

certainly the attitude. Coach [Bill] Parcells with the Giants and progressively

through the other stops that we made … we understood that everybody on the

team was expected to perform and be ready to do so. We had some good examples of

that [at Maryland].”

Parr, listed at 6-foot-6 and 275 pounds, plans to use Conrath as a source

of information in practices and games. That was certainly the case against the


“Matt was telling me some things before I went in about what the tackle

was doing and what I should look for,” Parr recounted. “He kept me in good

spirits and thanked me after the game. It meant a lot to me.”

As tough as losing Conrath will be for the weeks that lie ahead, Groh

said the team is confident with Parr on the field.

“He’s been such an effective player on the dime team, really inside,

helped that be a more effective unit,” he said. “We had some concerns about it

coming in, and he’s helped it to be a much more effective unit.

“We thought it would take a little bit of time for development because

all of them except for Collins are really new in their roles, but it has come on

pretty nicely.

“He’s been a good part of it. He did a very nice job the other day

throughout the second half.”