CHARLOTTESVILLE — It’s unlikely that Dejon Brissett fulfilled a lifelong dream when he revealed in April that he would be heading to Virginia.
Brissett played against the Cavaliers when he was a wide receiver at Richmond from 2015-18 and he couldn’t have been a big fan of UVa’s national championship men’s basketball team.
His younger brother, Oshae, was a 6-foot-8 power forward for a Syracuse team that faced Virginia three times before he turned pro this spring.
Dejon Brissett was in his fourth season at Richmond last fall when he suffered a season-ending ankle injury in the third game of the season, in time to qualify for a hardship ruling. He had caught 63 passes for 896 yards and seven touchdowns in his third year at Richmond.
By completing his graduation requirements at Richmond, he met the criteria for transferring to an FBS program and entered the NCAA transfer portal.
“A few schools had reached out to me and UVa was the last one,” he said. “Ever since I decided to come here, it’s just been about working, getting better and doing my job.”
Richmond played at Virginia twice during Brisset’s tenure as a Spider, the first time when he was a freshman in 20016 and handed UVa a 37-20 setback in Bronco Mendenhall’s first season as UVa head coach.
Brissett had one reception for 37 yards in that game.
He returned to Scott Stadium last year, when he had three catches for 22 yards in a 42-13 Spiders loss.
“Obviously, it’s a great environment,” Brissett said . “UVa fans were nice when I was on the other side, so that was good. It was a good experience playing on an [FBS] stage, which was good.”
Brissett, listed at 6 foot 2 and 195 pounds, is from Ontario but played at Lake Forest Academy in Illinois.
His goal as a Cavalier?
“Just doing my job, whatever it is at the time,” he said. “Getting better every single day. Whatever situation that I’m in, I’m going to zero in and focus.”
The opportunity to play with a quarterback like UVa’s Bryce Perkins, who passed for 2,680 yards and 25 touchdowns last season, was hard to resist.
“For me especially, quarterback is a huge thing, and Bryce is going to help me do my job,” said Brissett, who also has a background as a kick returner. “That was a big thing I considered in my decision.”
As late as March, Brissett had gone public with a decision to commit to Illinois in his home state.
“I love it here, and my decision has nothing to do with Richmond,” Brissett was quoted in Richmond’s student newspaper, The Collegian. “The chance to compete at a higher level was what I was chasing, and this allows me to do that.”
Brissett is part of a UVa receiving corps that includes Hasise Dubois, who had 52 catches last season, and Joe Reed, a deep threat who had 75-yard touchdown receptions in each of the past two seasons.
The Cavaliers need to replace Olamide Zaccheaus, who set a school record with 93 receptions last season, and that speaks to the need for Brissett to conclude rehabilitation following ankle surgery.
The UVa receiving corps also includes a second Canadian, British Columbia product Terrell Jana, who has recovered from an injury that kept him out of the Belk Bowl.