For two seasons, Michael Rocco has been the default quarterback for the University of Virginia, while coach Mike London has tried to work less-experienced players into the lineup who presented more big-play potential and long-range upside.
On Sunday, in a move that surprises few, Virginia announced that Rocco had been granted his release.
“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 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.”
As a sophomore, Rocco (127.1 efficiency rating) clearly out-played true freshman David Watford (82.4), eventually winning the job and leading Virginia (8-5) to the Chick-fil-A Bowl. This fall, Rocco (129.7) and sophomore transfer Phillip Sims (119.1) battled on fairly even terms. Rocco had 10 interceptions to four for Sims, who was rated No. 1 among quarterback prospects in the nation coming out of Oscar Smith High in Chesapeake.
The true junior could transfer to another FBS school and sit out a season as required by the NCAA, or perhaps end up at Richmond of the FCS, playing immediately for his uncle Danny Rocco.
The Spiders (8-3) played three quarterbacks this season before settling on sophomore Michael Strauss, a former backup at Virginia who led Richmond to four straight wins to close the year.