-- Five University of Virginia football players, including promising cornerback Philip Brown, have left the team because of academic problems or other reasons, a source close to the situation said Sunday. Also, three Virginia Tech signees failed to qualify academically and won't play for the Hokies this fall, and at least two other incoming freshmen must pass summer school classes to meet NCAA initial eligibility requirements.
The loss of Brown further depletes the Cavaliers' secondary, where they return cornerbacks Tony Franklin and Marcus Hamilton (Centreville), but must replace safeties Jermaine Hardy and Marquis Weeks. Brown, who in 2002 was rated the nation's fifth-best cornerback prospect by Rivals.com as a senior at Phoebus High School in Hampton, Va., didn't play in the Cavaliers' 24-10 loss at Virginia Tech on Nov. 27 because of academic shortcomings. He had 20 tackles in 11 games as a freshman last season.
Virginia quarterback Marques Hagans, one of Brown's closest friends, said the sophomore has been dismissed from the school for academic reasons but hopes to re-enroll next spring.
"To see him have to sit out this season is very tough," Hagans said.
Other players who have left the team include linebacker Devonta Brown of Charlottesville, offensive tackle Davon Robb of Hopewell, Va., wide receiver Ron Morton of Hamilton, N.J., and center D.J. Bell of Camden, Del. Morton played in two games last season and had one catch, and Bell played in 16 games in 2002 and 2003 before moving from defensive end last year.
Hokies Note: Virginia Tech will be without three signees -- defensive end Steven Friday and wide receiver Todd Nolen of Hampton and linebacker Deveon Simmons of Virginia Beach -- when preseason practice begins Aug. 5. Friday and Nolen are expected to enroll in a prep school, and Simmons will attend a two-year junior college.
A Virginia Tech official also said at least two other prospects haven't yet met academic requirements, but declined to identify the players. Each of the Cavaliers' 25 signees have qualified, a source said.