- Andrea Adelson, ESPN Staff Writer
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First Michael Rocco decided to transfer.
So, here is where things stand for the Cavs: A program that has struggled to find consistency at quarterback enters 2013 without either player who made a start a year ago.
Perhaps most telling? Neither move came as a terrible shock. Both players were frustrated with their roles last year, when coach Mike London played musical quarterbacks -- first starting Rocco, then Sims, then having them both split time. Rocco high-tailed it out after the season ended. On his way out, he had some choice words for London, telling Doug Doughty of the Roanoke Times, "It's an unhealthy environment for any quarterback at UVa. It was hard on all the quarterbacks, not just me."
With Rocco gone, Sims became the favorite to win the starting job. But he opened the spring No. 3 on the depth chart, and let his frustrations be known in cryptic statements to several local reporters. When he was asked if he was starting to feel more like himself on the field, Sims replied, "It really looks like it's headed in the opposite direction, but I'm here to play football, man" -- then refused to elaborate.
Sims did not grab a hold of the starting job in the spring. When the post-spring depth chart was released, Sims, David Watford and Greyson Lambert remained in competition. As much as he wanted to see Sims succeed, London did not hold back in a harshly worded statement Friday, calling Sims out for failing to adhere to basic guidelines.
"The thing we tell the young men who come to the University of Virginia to receive a world-class education and play for our football program is pretty simple,” London said. “Go to class. Show class and treat people with dignity and respect. Those directions are pretty easy to follow and they will lead you on a path of success.
“When an individual strays from those directions, it is very disappointing to me. Phillip Sims did not make the commitment he needed to succeed here."
Disappointing is probably putting it mildly. Sims was one of the most high profile recruits in the nation in 2010, ranked the No. 1 quarterback prospect in the country. He could have gone anywhere. London wanted him to stay close to home.
Sims chose Alabama.
After redshirting, Sims entered into a quarterback competition with AJ McCarron in 2011. Though Sims played as a redshirt freshman, he clearly would not become the starter for the Tide, and opted to transfer to Virginia.
The move was seen as a big victory for the Cavs, as they secured a high-profile talent from the most high-profile school in the nation. He was granted a waiver for immediate eligibility. But his arrival did not exactly calm the waters, as the Cavs struggled to a 4-8 mark.
So the Cavs go into the spring now with Watford and Lambert as their top two quarterbacks. Watford has not played since 2011 after redshirting last year; Lambert is a redshirt freshman. So is Matt Johns, sure to get more reps this fall.
Sims, for all his incredible potential, goes down as yet another example of a gifted player who cannot seem to figure out how to best utilize his natural talent.
Two stops at BCS programs for Sims, and nothing to show for it. Based on the statement from London, it is reasonable to conclude Sims could not get out of his own way.
3hMax Olson and Brian Bennett