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The former UVa quarterback most likely would be starting for the Cavs if he hadn’t transferred.
Richmond Times Dispatch
University of Richmond quarterback Michael Rocco (5) chats with a teammate during practice Tuesday.
Thursday, August 15, 2013
RICHMOND — Among the five University of Richmond quarterbacks, Michael Rocco is the fifth to get repetitions during preseason drills. He isn’t involved in scrimmage situations. Welcome to limbo.
A year ago, he was the University of Virginia’s starting quarterback. A year from now, he’ll be available to play as a University of Richmond senior. This year, Rocco is redshirting, ineligible because of an NCAA rule that states transfers from Football Bowl Subdivision to Football Championship Subdivision with only one season of eligibility remaining must sit out a season.
Now, he is as much staff aide as player, which may help in the long run. Rocco wants to become a coach.
“He’s got a maturity and a presence that goes with his background and his history and his time at UVa, his career experiences,” said Danny Rocco, Michael’s uncle and Richmond’s coach.
Rocco went from the full-season starter on an 8-5 Cavaliers team in 2011 to sharing the position with Alabama transfer Phillip Sims last season in a controversial and ineffective blend used by Virginia coach Mike London. The Cavaliers went 4-8. In January, Rocco transferred, saying he wanted a fresh start.
“I’ve kind of been through everything a quarterback can see,” he said.
In June, Sims left Virginia for academic reasons, and has since transferred to Division II Winston-Salem State. Had Rocco remained a Cavalier, he presumably would be Virginia’s well-seasoned senior quarterback, and a team leader. Asked on Tuesday if there are times he reconsiders his decision to transfer, Rocco said he tries to avoid such second-guessing.
“I believe God has put me in this situation for a reason, and brought me to Richmond. But doubt always creeps in your mind, and you just try to ignore it, and keep it out,” he said. “I didn’t leave [Virginia] because of Phillip Sims. I left because [Richmond] was, I thought, a better opportunity for me to play my senior year.”
Richmond petitioned the NCAA to allow Rocco, who did not redshirt at Virginia and was on track to graduate in four years, to play this season. That appeal was denied.
Danny Rocco looks for his redshirting quarterback to bring leadership despite his ineligibility. The coach projects Rocco supervising the scout team on which he will play, and mentoring the Spiders’ young quarterbacks and receivers. Michael Rocco said he also will try to assist starting quarterback Michael Strauss, a junior who transferred from Virginia to Richmond in January of 2012.
“I’m just trying to be a positive [influence] on everybody. Even though my situation is tough, I’m not trying to be a downer, or have a bad mood about it,” Rocco said.
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