Brennan Armstrong Embraces Change, Focused On Future At Virginia

Virginia QB Brennan Armstrong
Brennan Armstrong looks for a receiving target at the Virginia Spring Game. ~ Photo By Kris Wright/

Virginia quarterback Brennan Armstrong already earned the respect of his teammates as a two-time captain before kickoff last season and his record-breaking performance backed it up on the field. This offseason, however, has only added to his stature.

During a whirlwind of change that saw Bronco Mendenhall step down abruptly and Tony Elliott leave Clemson to take the helm, Armstrong remained a steady influence and his voice grew through the spring. Part of that came from being an elder statesman in the program since 2018. Part came from the new coaching staff pushing him.

Armstrong’s response earned the respect of his new coach.

“I’m proud of Brennan,” Elliott said. “He made a decision to come back and then some of his buddies decided not to come back, but he still stuck with it. He had to do the best that he could. I saw him just lead and grow as a leader and challenge himself to get better in the little things.”

That step forward likely helped smooth the transition.

It’s not always easy for players recruited by different people to immediately embrace new coaches. Virginia is no different in that regard. Elliott described it through a swimming analogy. Some might dip a toe in the water. Some might put a foot in to test it out. Some might put both feet in but still ease into the water. Some might dive right in.

That last one sounds like Armstrong’s approach. After he received NFL feedback and opted not to pursue this month’s NFL Draft, he had to choose what to do next. Once he decided to stay at UVA, though, it was full speed ahead.

Armstrong immersed himself in the transition. He frequently sat in with the coaching staff and participated in the building phase that carried through winter workouts. By the time the spring rolled around, he had learned the basic parts of the scheme and had helped teach some things to other players. Armstrong praised the coaches for making that possible – they got a plan in place in less than two weeks and got the momentum going.

Even long-time teammates that have a strong relationship with Armstrong noted the change. Receiver Dontayvion Wicks built chemistry with Armstrong when he first arrived and the two connected on a 44-yard touchdown pass against Liberty in 2019 as reserves. Wicks was the recipient of a lot of passes in 2021 en route to setting the program’s single-season receiving record of 1,203 yards too.

Wicks said Armstrong has been front and center as a motivator this spring.

“A lot of spots. I’ve seen Brennan getting better as a leader, also with timing too being that we couldn’t work on it as much, we had to work on it through practice,” Wicks said. “Just talking. Motivating internally. He’s just motivating everybody around. Just hearing his voice gives the offense energy so we can do better.”

When Armstrong reflected on spring practice, that’s one area where he felt his own development. Challenges came with unexpectedly getting a new coaching staff, switching offenses, and learning the specific style of new quarterbacks coach Taylor Lamb.

Despite years of doing things a different way, he didn’t sulk or sit still. He adapted.

“Just being adaptable,” Armstrong said. “I mean I was so consistent with what I had with the old staff for four straight years and just being able to adapt on the fly, learn new stuff, continue to be a leader, and just push the guys, I think that’s where I’ve grown a lot. Just being able to adapt.”

Make no mistake, while that attitude is important for