Virginia quarterback Michael Rocco has been granted an unconditional release from his scholarship and will transfer to another school at the end of this semester, Virginia Coach Mike London announced Sunday.
Rocco started 21 games for the Cavaliers the past two seasons, throwing for 4,731 yards, 27 touchdowns and 24 interceptions. But after starting all 13 games in 2011 when Virginia finished with an 8-5 record and earned its first bowl appearance since 2007, Rocco was forced to split time under center with Alabama transfer Phillip Sims this season when Virginia went 4-8 for the second time in three years.
Rocco ended up starting eight games in 2012, completing 60.5 percent of his passes for 1,917 yards, 13 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. His two-year record as a starter ended up being 11-10. The junior still has one year of eligibility and a redshirt year remaining.
“After meeting with Michael and discussing his future with our program and his personal goals and interests, I understand his desire to complete his college football career elsewhere,” London said in a school-issued statement. “Michael has been an outstanding member of our program on the field, in the classroom and in the community. I appreciate the competitive nature, work ethic and leadership he brought to our program and I wish him the best in his future endeavors.”
One of the main reasons behind Rocco’s decision to transfer is Virginia’s crowded quarterback depth chart. In addition to Sims, the Cavaliers also have sophomore David Watford, who split snaps with Rocco at times in 2011 and redshirted this season, freshman Greyson Lambert, freshman Matt Johns as well as incoming recruits Brendan Marshall (Good Counsel) and Corwin Cutler.
Lambert and Johns both took a redshirt this year.
But even though Rocco’s final season as a Cavalier will be defined by London’s decision to rotate him and Sims in-and-out of the lineup the last four games of the year, Rocco did have his moments. The Lynchburg native led game-winning touchdown drives against Penn State and Miami, while completing a school record 18-straight passes in the latter victory.
However, when Sims replaced him in the starting lineup for Virginia’s sixth game of the year at Duke, Rocco had more interceptions than any other ACC quarterback. He never did regain the full-time job again.