Just like the team he plays for, Jake McGee is hoping that the groundwork laid last season could lead to some hardware in a few months' time.
Earlier this week McGee, a redshirt junior, was named to the preseason watch list for the John Mackey Award, which honors the best tight end in the nation at the FBS level.
Presented annually since 2000, the award is named for the NFL Hall of Famer who played 10 seasons in the league and won two championships with the Baltimore Colts, revolutionizing the position with a never before seen blend of size and speed.
At 6'6" and 250 lbs., McGee certainly has the size part down -- and with a season-long grab of 44 yards last year, he certainly has the athleticism to match.
Last season, his first seeing significant time on offense, the then-sophomore hauled in 28 catches for 374 yards and five touchdowns, appearing in every game and starting three.
His touchdown total represented the fifth-highest single-season mark in Cavalier history.
Perhaps the most important scoring pass he caught all season came against Penn State, with just under 1:30 left to play in the game.
It proved to be the game-winner, as Penn State missed a field goal -- their fourth of the game -- as time expired.
Now primed to start full-time, McGee's numbers figure to receive a huge bump as he plays the role of security blanket for Virginia's new starting quarterback -- likely sophomore David Watford.
The Cavaliers hope that a fruitful pairing between the two will help them build from last season's 4-8 record towards bowl eligibility.
If that happens, McGee could find himself in serious contention for the award come the end of the season.
Previous Mackey Award winners include Dallas Clark, Kellen Winslow, and Virginia's own Heath Miller.
No school has yet produced two Mackey honorees -- but for McGee and UVa, this could be a season of change in more ways than one.