Well, one of the more intriguing quarterback battles of the ACC is officially over. At least for the time being anyway. Michael Rocco (6’3” 225) was named the top guy on the totem pole today, per the announcement by Virginia Head Coach Mike London. This comes as somewhat of a surprise to a lot of people, most of whom believed that Phillip Sims would eventually win out. Not the case.
Rocco was the starting quarterback for the majority of UVA’s snaps last year, and he put up modest numbers; 127.1 quarterback rating, 60% completion percentage, 2,671 yards passing, 13 touchdown passes and 12 interceptions. The junior from Lynchburg Virginia also added 2 rushing touchdowns, even though he wasn’t much of a running threat last year. After the season there was no doubt the lightly recruited Rocco was going to be the guy again for the Cavaliers in 2012.
Enter Sims. Sims was one of the highest ranked quarterback prospects in the country coming out of Chesapeake Virginia, from the famed ‘757’ area code. With offers from all over the country, Sims decided to take his talents south to Tuscaloosa and signed with Nick Saban and Alabama. Only it didn’t go as planned for Sims. He lost the quarterback battle to A.J. McCarron, and considering the success McCarron experienced in his first year starting (national champs), Sims decided to transfer closer to home and play in Charlottesville.
After getting immediate eligibility by the NCAA, the excitement grew with the anticipation of a battle for the starting quarterback between the incumbent versus the one time mega recruit. Now that we know the result of the positional battle, it doesn’t come as a big surprise Rocco won out. After all, Rocco has a heck of a lot more experience with London’s playbook than Sims, and a lot more game experience overall.
This is far from over though. Sims will keep Rocco’s seat hot, waiting for the opportunity prove his worth. While I don’t think Rocco will be unseated through the first game of the season against Richmond, I have a hunch he’s going to get some valuable snaps at some point this year. Virginia has steadily been getting better under London, and he has a knack for getting the most out of his quarterbacks. London is expecting to get a lot out of his quarterbacks this year, whether it’s Rocco or Sims.