The Washington Post

Quarterback battle to highlight Virginia spring football practice

The Virginia football team will begin its spring practice sessions bright and early at 6 a.m. Wednesday. That one is open to the public, so I expect to see you all there.

Those who show up will get first glance at what figures to be one of the most intriguing storylines for Mike London’s squad heading into the 2011 season: The battle to succeed Marc Verica as the team’s starting quarterback.

“If the quarterback situation was listed, it would say so-and-so ‘or’ so-and-so ‘or’ so-and-so ‘or,’” London said Monday. “There’s no one that’s anointed or appointed.”

The candidates include rising redshirt sophomore Ross Metheny, rising sophomore Michael Rocco, rising redshirt freshman Michael Strauss and David Watford, who enrolled at Virginia in January after concluding his high school career at Hampton.

London said he would prefer to have the race narrowed down to two candidates by the end of spring practice.

“What we’d like to do is find (No.) 1 and (No.) 2, or 1A and 1B,” London said. “You’d like to find those two guys that are the guys that have got to get it done. And then that third guy, just making sure that he’s always, you know, maybe he’s the guy that’s signaling the plays in or whatever it is.

“But for us, we’ve just got to make sure that we find one, the guy that can distribute the ball. And I think with the offensive line and the skilled receivers, and even with the skill that’s coming in, we’ll be able to distribute the ball, and this quarterback this year, just get the ball to the right people.”

One player who will not, at least for the time being, compete for playing time at quarterback this spring is rising redshirt freshman Miles Gooch. After spending last fall as a scout team quarterback, Gooch will shift to wide receiver and attempt to take advantage of injury-created opportunities to showcase his skills.

London said rising Kris Burd, the team’s leading receiver last season, underwent offseason foot surgery and will miss all of spring practice. London said Burd’s surgery was similar to the type from which wide receiver Tim Smith is recovering. Smith missed most of last season with what the team announced as an ankle injury. He will not be able to compete in contact drills this spring, but will be involved in the workouts to some extent, according to London.

Offensive tackle Landon Bradley and defensive tackle Hunter Steward will miss all of spring practice, as well. Bradley continues to recover from offseason hand and knee surgeries, while Steward is recovering from shoulder surgery.

Defensive end Cam Johnson, who led the team in sacks and tackles for a loss in 2010, had undergone shoulder surgery and will not participate in contact drills during spring practice. London said Johnson would be involved in other types of activities during team workouts.

London said offensive lineman Morgan Moses has recovered from mononucleosis, though the coach does not expect Moses to join the team during workouts for 1-2 more weeks.

“Now that he’s back, he missed a lot of school, and we’ve got to get him caught up to the academic obligations that he had, but he looks good,” London said. “He’s feeling good.”

Offensive lineman Aaron Van Kuiken is suffering from a wrist injury that likely will end his football-playing career, London said.


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