The University of Virginia football program has added another talented offensive player via the graduate transfer market. Shane Simpson, who starred as an all-purpose running back and return specialist at Towson, announced Sunday (August 2) that he will use his final year of eligibility at Virginia.
Simpson’s commitment to UVA comes four days after he announced he had entered the transfer portal. The 5’11”, 195-pound playmaker chose the Hoos over Texas.
— 1️⃣3️⃣ (@Shane_Simpson18) August 2, 2020
Virginia has now landed four graduate transfers this offseason, including quarterback Keytaon Thompson (Mississippi State transfer, two years of eligibility remaining), wide receiver Ra’Shaun Henry (St. Francis (PA), one year), tight end Tony Poljan (Central Michigan, one year), and Simpson. All four are immediately eligible to play. The Hoos have also added Indiana running back transfer Ronnie Walker Jr., who has two years of eligibility remaining but is awaiting word on whether his waiver to gain immediate eligibility will be approved.
Simpson spent five years at Towson and was granted a sixth-year of eligibility for this coming season. However, the CAA Board of Directors voted on July 17 to suspend conference competition this fall. Though the conference left open the option of playing next spring, Simpson opted to consider transfer options instead of staying at Towson.
Injuries ended Simpson’s 2015, 2017 and 2019 campaigns early. According to his Towson bio, he played in four games as a true freshman in 2015 before missing the rest of the season due to injury. He appeared in all 11 of the Tigers’ games in 2016 but was limited to just five games in 2017. In 2019, Simpson totaled 337 all-purpose yards (162 rushing, 62 receiving, 109 kick return, 4 punt return) before a knee injury (torn ACL and MCL) ended his season three games in.
Simpson’s talents were on full display in 2018, when he averaged 171.5 all-purpose yards per game in 12 games. The per-game average was second among all FCS players. Simpson concluded his breakout year with 2,058 all-purpose yards (711 rush, 356 receiving, 887 kick return, 104 punt return) and 12 touchdowns (6 rush, 5 receiving, 1 kick return), earning FCS All-America First Team all-purpose honors from the Associated Press, AFCA, HERO Sports and Athlon Sports.
The addition of a healthy Simpson helps Virginia in several ways. His prowess as a runner and receiver projects well towards an H-back role in the mold of Olamide Zaccheaus, but perhaps with more carries. Then there is kick return, as UVA is seeking to replace the best kick returner in school history, Joe Reed. Simpson could push Billy Kemp IV as the team’s starting punt returner as well. Simply put, the dynamic all-purpose standout gives UVA another playmaker as the offense tries to replace its top three playmakers (Bryce Perkins, Reed, Hasise Dubois) from last season.