[dropcap]T[/dropcap]here have been whispers the past couple of weeks around Phillip Sims’ future at Virginia, but it’s now official. Sims is no longer on the team.
With Michael Rocco (16) now at Richmond and Phillip Sims off the team, David Watford (5) looks like the front-runner at QB for Virginia.
Cavaliers coach Mike London confirmed the news Friday.
According to London, Sims is academically ineligible and will no longer be enrolled in school after he completes the current summer school session.
A former 4-star recruit from Chesapeake, Va., Sims played his sophomore season with the Cavaliers after transferring from Alabama last summer. Last season, he saw action in all 12 of Virginia’s games and started four, splitting time with Michael Rocco.
Sims completed 132 of 231 passes for 1,426 yards and nine touchdowns on the year.
Rocco transferred to Richmond during the off-season, presumably opening the door for Sims to take over the starting role full time. But sophomore David Watford and freshmen Greyson Lambert — both of whom redshirted last year — were listed 1-2 on the spring depth chart.
Watford, 6-1, 200, is a former 3-star recruit from Hampton (Va.) High School. He played in 10 games as a true freshman in 2011, and completed 30 of 74 passes with three touchdowns and four interceptions.
Many around the program expected Watford to win the starting job for the season opener against BYU — even with Sims on the roster. Now that he’s gone, that battle will come down to Watford and Lambert (6-5, 215), a former 3-star recruit from Wayne County High School in Jesup, Ga.
Redshirt freshman Matt Johns (6-5, 200) is also on the roster but considered behind Watford and Lambert.
The Cavaliers signed a pair of 3-star quarterbacks Brendan Marshall (6-5, 210) and Corwin Cutler (6-4, 180) in 2013, but Cutler will likely spend a semester (perhaps more) at prep school Fork Union Military Academy. He suffered a torn ACL that ended his senior season prematurely.
London issued the following statement on Sims’ departure:
“The thing we tell the young men who come to the University of Virginia to receive a world-class education and play for our football program is pretty simple: Go to class. Show class and treat people with dignity and respect. Those directions are pretty easy to follow and they will lead you on a path of success.
“When an individual strays from those directions, it is very disappointing to me. Phillip Sims did not make the commitment he needed to succeed here. I appreciate his efforts last season. He is a very talented young man who is blessed with some extraordinary athletic abilities. I still believe Phillip Sims can and will be a successful person. We will do what we can to assist Phillip in continuing his academic and athletic opportunities elsewhere.
“The young men who remain with this football program are committed and have done a great job in the classroom, in the weight room and on the practice fields. Our team spring semester grade point average is the highest it has been in the past 10 years and we understand that for us to be successful on Saturdays in the fall, it will require that everyone involved in the program do what is necessary each and every day to prepare to win.”
Photo credit: Steve Helber / AP