On a day in which UVA football had what head coach Bronco Mendenhall called a “program-changing moment,” there was some disappointment as well.
Neither offensive lineman Colin McGovern nor quarterback Marvin Zanders will be enrolling on Grounds, Virginia football announced. Both players are graduate transfers who were expected to play significant roles this coming season.
McGovern is a Notre Dame graduate. He started eight games at right guard for the Irish last season and seemingly had a great chance to capture a starting spot next season for UVA, which is looking to replace three starters on the offensive line. Zanders, who is now a Missouri graduate, was expected to be Kurt Benkert’s primary backup this coming season. The dual-threat signal caller would then have a chance to assume the starting job in 2018.
Virginia also announced rising sophomore quarterback Sonny Abramson has left the team but will remain enrolled in school. The New Jersey native did not play as a true freshman last season.
Without Zanders and Abramson, the Cavaliers will enter the 2017 season with only three scholarship quarterbacks: Benkert, rising sophomore De’Vante Cross, and incoming freshman Lindell Stone. Benkert, who started 10 of 12 games last season, is the definitive starter. Cross earned the backup role this spring while also seeing action at wide receiver. Benkert, though, saw virtually all of the snaps at quarterback in Virginia’s Spring Game.
The loss of McGovern leaves Virginia with 16 scholarship offensive linemen in 2017. Of the 16, rising senior tackle Jack English and rising senior guard Jack McDonald started last season while rising junior center Jake Fieler and rising sophomore guard RJ Proctor appeared in all 12 games last season as significant rotational players. There are two grad transfers enrolling in Brandon Pertile (Oklahoma State) and John Montelus (Notre Dame), though neither has the starting experience of McGovern, as well as five incoming freshmen. Additionally, there is rising junior guard Steven Moss (one game played in his career), rising sophomore tackle Ryan Bischoff (no games played), and rising redshirt freshmen Osiris Crutchfield (who moved over from the defensive line this spring), Ben Knutson, and Dillon Reinkensmeyer.
Obviously the offensive line and quarterback positions took serious hits. However, as mentioned, there is good news for the Cavalier football program. Virginia Sports announced that the Joint Finance and Buildings and Grounds committees have approved fundraising and planning for a Football Operations Center. The approval of the 55-60 million dollar project is what Coach Mendenhall was referred to as a “program changing moment.”
Some details of the Football Operations Center are revealed below. Read more here.
A new football operations center will include an expanded academic suite to support tutoring, individual and group study to help reach a 100 graduation rate goal. Student athletes will have their own lounge and meeting spaces where they can build community and strengthen team relationships. Players will have access to state-of-the-art football speciﬁc equipment and training.