Alabama transfer Phillip Sims will be allowed to play quarterback for Virginia’s football team this fall after the NCAA informed the school it had granted his waiver request Wednesday.
The Chesapeake, Va., native will likely be given a chance to challenge for the starting job under center when the Cavaliers open training camp next month.
Sims, who starred at Oscar Smith High with running back Perry Jones and wide receiver Tim Scott, spent the past two seasons with the Crimson Tide. Considered the No. 2 pro style quarterback recruit in the country by Rivals.com in 2009, Sims took a redshirt as a true freshman at Alabama and then battled A.J. McCarron for the starting spot throughout this past season.
But McCarron ultimately became Alabama’s full-time starter and ended up leading the Crimson Tide to a BCS national championship last season. Sims appeared in eight games, completing 18 of his 28 passes for 163 yards. He also threw two interceptions.
NCAA rules usually call for transfers to sit out one season, but they allow for exceptions if a player is going to a new school because of a family emergency or illness. There was some debate over whether Sims’s request would be granted after his high school coach, Rich Morgan, told the Virginian Pilot that Sims would not have transferred had he been the starter at Alabama.
Since Sims arrived at Virginia in June, neither he nor Virginia Coach Mike London have publicly stated why a waiver was sought from the NCAA, but Alabama Coach Nick Saban told reporters in May that Sims chose to transfer because of “health issues in his family.”
Sims will have three years of eligibility when he takes the field this fall.
“I am pleased we were able to work with the NCAA to get a resolution regarding this matter,” London said in a school-issued statement. “We look forward to having Phillip and the rest of our team in camp this August.”
But Sims’s immediate eligibility leaves London with a difficult decision to make before the regular season begins. Junior Michael Rocco emerged as a reliable starting quarterback late in the season when Virginia reeled off four straight wins and went to a bowl game for the first time since 2007.
The Cavaliers also have sophomore David Watford, who split time under center with Rocco for parts of last year, and freshman Greyson Lambert on the quarterback depth chart already.