CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Alabama quarterback Phillip Sims will transfer schools, and pending an NCAA ruling, he could be bound for the University of Virginia.
The Chesapeake native was rated by ESPN as the No. 1 QB in the class of 2010, but wasn’t able to beat out A.J. McCarron for the Tide’s starting job. He said, however, that issues within his family are the reason he’s looking to transfer.
“The reason for me leaving is nothing more than a personal matter,” he said in a press release. “I just need to be closer to home to support my family at this time, and that needs to be my priority right now.”
No further details were available.
Sims is completing his redshirt freshman year at Alabama. If he follows the traditional transfer route, he would sit out 2012 and compete as a junior in 2013. But the NCAA allows for a hardship waiver if players move close to home for family issues. If Sims receives a waiver, he could play as a sophomore this fall.
In that scenario, he’s likely to join coach Mike London at U.Va. If Sims‘ waiver is denied, he could transfer to one of Virginia’s FCS schools and be eligible immediately. As of Friday afternoon, no timetable was available for that decision.
Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban put out a statement supporting Sims‘ decision.
“We are sorry to see him leave, but we certainly understand the situation, and everyone here wishes him the best of luck,” Saban said. “We’ve talked on numerous occasions about this decision, and we just want Phillip to know that we will be here to support him in the future if there is anything we can do to help him and his family.”
During Alabama’s spring game two weeks ago, Sims threw two touchdown passes, one for 44 yards and the other for 50 yards. He finished the day 9-for-12 with 135 yards. He was unable to play in the team’s other scrimmages because of a shoulder injury.
He was one of the most prolific quarterbacks in state history, throwing for a VHSL record 119 touchdowns for Oscar Smith High School.
If he can play immediately, it could create a sticky situation at U.Va. for London, who would have too many quarterbacks and not enough snaps to go around.
Michael Rocco will start as a junior this year, with sophomore David Watford right behind him. Watford represented London’s first inroads into the talent-rich Tidewater area as U.Va.’s coach. Alienating Watford could represent a setback there.
Also in the mix is true freshman Greyson Lambert, who enrolled early to acquire immediate exposure to Virginia’s offense this spring.
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