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David Watford "has an innate ability to be the leader, to be the front [man], to be the face of the program," Virginia coach Mike London said.
Virginia quarterback David Watford talks during media day at John Paul Jones Arena on Aug. 2.
JOEL HAWKSLEY | The Roanoke Times
Virginia quarterback David Watford throws the ball during practice in Charlottesville on Wednesday.
Virginia quarterback David Watford throws the ball during practice Wednesday in Charlottesville.
JOEL HAWKSLEY | The Roanoke Times
Virginia quarterback David Watford hands off the ball during preseason practice in Charlottesville.
Tuesday, August 13, 2013
Something would have had to change for David Watford not to be named Virginia's starting quarterback.
Watford began spring practice atop the Cavaliers' quarterback depth chart, he was listed No. 1 on the post-spring depth chart and he came into pre-season camp as the frontrunner.
"It's hard to ignore the fact that he's played in a college game," said UVa offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild, who took part in a meeting Sunday night in which he was joined by head coach Mike London and UVa's top two quarterbacks, Watford and Greyson Lambert.
Watford was notified that he will start Aug. 31 in the Cavaliers' opener against Brigham Young.
Any celebration was short-lived.
"I'm just back to grinding," said Watford after the second of two practices Monday.
Watford, a 6-foot-2, 200-pound graduate of Hampton High School, played in seven games as a true freshman in 2011, when he alternated with then-starter Michael Rocco early in the season.
After former high-school All-American Phillip Sims transferred to Virginia from Alabama in the spring of 2012, it was decided that Watford would sit out the 2012 season as a redshirt.
"When I was redshirted, I took a lot of the scout-team snaps with Greyson and Matt Johns," Watford said. "We played it like a game. It was like a Saturday for us every time we practiced. We were going against the No. 1 defense and we tried to complete every throw, just be perfect. We worked our butts off with the receivers."
At the time, Watford's path to future playing time was uncertain. Rocco and Sims were both underclassmen; however, both have enrolled at other schools.
Rocco asked for a release and transferred to Richmond prior to the second semester, but Sims actually took part in spring practice at UVa.
It must be noted that Sims was listed as the No. 3 quarterback on UVa's pre-spring depth chart and that hadn't changed before it was announced in June that he was academically ineligible.
Sims, who broke numerous state passing records at Oscar Smith High School in Chesapeake, has transferred to Division II Winston-Salem State.
The big shocker Monday would have been an announcement that anybody but Watford would start against BYU.
"He has an innate ability to be the leader, to be the front [man], to be the face of the program," London said.
Watford does not come from an option background but he has the speed to be a running threat.
"That's one of the elements," London said. "That's a skill set that he has. Greyson has a big arm, but part of the offense that we're putting in requires [that] the quarterback run. David has the legs and the tools to do that."
Fairchild said he does not foresee an immediate change in the repetitions that the various quarterbacks will be getting, including No. 3 quarterback Matt Johns, a 6-5, 205-pound redshirt freshman who was slowed by mononucleosis in the spring.
There were five quarterbacks among the 105 players who began camp last week, including February signee Brendan Marshall and walk-on freshman Andrew Mackay.
The decision to go with Watford followed the Cavaliers' scrimmage Saturday at restored Lambeth Field.
"It just became apparent," Fairchild said. "I wasn't really thinking about it prior to that date. I thought they all played well Saturday. David protected the ball, didn't take a sack, put us in the right protections a few times [and] got us in the right runs a few times."</
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