Virginia tight end Jake McGee announces that he will transfer

If the Virginia football team is to rebound from its disappointing 2013 campaign, the Cavaliers will have to do so without their leading receiver.

Tight end Jake McGee announced Friday he plans to transfer to another school after graduating from Virginia in May. The NCAA’s graduate transfer rule will give him immediate eligibility wherever the rising senior lands and the Cavaliers granted him an unconditional release from his scholarship.

McGee finished with a team-high 43 receptions for 395 yards and two touchdowns last season.

“I have tremendous respect for Coach London and this football team, but I have decided to pursue my future career elsewhere,” McGee said in a statement. “This is a personal decision and in no way should reflect on this team or its coaches. I want to thank my teammates, coaches, and especially the Wahoo fans for the endless support.”

The Gainesville (Fla.) Sun is reporting McGee will likely end up at Florida.

McGee first emerged as a dynamic offensive weapon in 2012, using his athletic, 6-foot-6, 250-pound frame to catch 28 passes for 374 yards and a team-high five touchdowns. He had a knack for highlight-reel catches, including memorable late-game completions in upset wins over Penn State and Miami that year.

But McGee never became the consistent blocker that position coach Tom O’Brien wanted him to be. By the end of the 2013 season, McGee had been passed on the depth chart by senior Zachary Swanson, primarily used in passing situations as the Cavaliers stumbled to a 2-10 record.

This spring’s roster listed McGee as a wide receiver and offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild talked of using him in a hybrid H-back role and as a slot receiver to better utilize his skill set with Virginia’s quarterback situation unsettled again. He was also one of 13 players chosen by London to be part of the program’s leadership council.

McGee did not play in last weekend’s spring game because of injury and told Rivals.com Friday he worried the new role might hinder his long-term development as a tight end.

“I want to thank Jake for his contributions to the Virginia program and wish him the best,” London said in a statement. “When I came to U-Va., he was one of the first players we recruited because he had committed to play for me at Richmond. I am very proud of the fact he will graduate from the University this spring. I hope he finds a program that fits his desires for his final season as a college player.”

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