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U.Va. Notes: Rocco confident he’s still No. 1
SIMS’ ARRIVAL DOESN’T
RATTLE LAST YEAR’S
RATTLE LAST YEAR’S
BY STEVE DeSHAZO
CHARLOTTESVILLE—Michael Rocco considers himself Virginia’s starting quarterback until he’s told otherwise—even with the heralded arrival of Alabama transfer Phillip Sims.
“I’m taking the same approach I took last year,” Rocco said Friday at Virginia’s annual media day. “I believe if I play to the best of my ability, I’m going to be the starting quarterback.”
Rocco started all 13 of Virginia’s games in 2011, throwing for 2,671 yards with 13 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He improved as the season progressed, throwing just five picks in the final 10 games and passing for 312 yards in a Chick–fil–A Bowl loss to Auburn.
After splitting time with true freshman David Watford for several games, Rocco established himself as No. 1 late in the season, then solidified that position during spring practice.
Then Sims announced he was transferring to Virginia, and the NCAA granted him immediate eligibility because his father is being treated at University of Virginia Hospital. Sims was rated as one of the nation’s top quarterbacks in the class of 2010 while at Virginia Beach’s Oscar Smith High School.
Rocco’s not about to hand over his job without a competition, though.
“Coach [Mike] London and [offensive coordinator Bill] Lazor are going to do what’s best for the program,” Rocco said. “ They know what I can do. I’ve had my struggles and successes, and they really expect a lot out of me now.”
Lazor said he could envision playing more than one quarterback in a game and wouldn’t speculate about redshirting any of his candidates until he watches Sims practice next week.
“I don’t have an opinion today,” he said, “because I don’t have to.”
The Cavaliers will open afternoon practices to the public all next week. Because of construction of an indoor facility near the McCue Center, 3:45 p.m. practices Monday through Friday will be held at The Park, located on Massie Road near the U.Va. law school. Saturday’s practice will be held at 4 p.m. at Scott Stadium.
The Cavaliers’ annual Meet the Team Day is Sunday, Aug. 19 at 2 p.m. at Scott Stadium.
ANDERSON MAKES IMPACT
Virginia’s men’s basketball team leaves Monday for a five-game tour in France, Belgium and the Netherlands. It will mark the first appearance in a Cavalier uniform for Westmoreland County native Justin Anderson.
The 6-foot-7 forward has made an impression already with his new teammates—particularly on the defensive end. NCAA rules allow the Cavaliers 10 practice sessions in preparation for their trip.
“Physically, he has all the tools to be a terrific defender,” coach Tony Bennett said. “ He’s very enthusiastic. He’s strong and long. You just don’t find many freshmen that physically ready.”
Steve DeShazo: 540/374-5443