More on David Watford's consideration of enrolling at Virginia a semester early
Future Virginia quarterback David Watford, who is in the midst of his senior season at Hampton High School, acknowledged recently that he is considering enrolling in college a semester early, which would put him on campus in Charlottesville for the 2011 spring semester.
Watford and his mother, Angela, said that they needed to do more research into that option and that a decision will not be made until the conclusion of Hampton's football season*. Watford is in Hampton's International Baccalaureate program, and Angela Watford said that if her son left high school a semester early, it would alter his grade-point average. The hold-up concerns an English class Watford is taking, and Angela Watford said she still needed to have further discussion with her son and with the high school's academic counselors to see if heading to Virginia a semester early is a viable option.
* Hampton (7-0) plays Phoebus (7-0) on Friday night. After that, the Crabbers will have two more regular season games left before the postseason begins.
"I would miss the prom, different stuff like that," David Watford said of the consequences of heading to Virginia a semester early. "I would miss really being a senior. Because as a senior, you want to spend a whole year there with the people you've been there with for four years. Go to prom. Hang out with your friends. I would kind of miss that.
"But then again, I'd be getting a head start on my schoolwork [at Virginia]. And then being up there, I could probably graduate earlier if I went up there a semester early. And just learning the football, the system, the playbook and learn all the plays. Getting used to the system. That would help me on the field. That would skip a redshirt year; that's what Marques [Hagans] was saying. Instead of me redshirting one year, it would just skip that so I could try to get on the field earlier."
Hagans, a former Virginia quarterback, is a first cousin of Watford's and someone in whom Watford confided during the recruiting process. Hagans said he thinks enrolling in college a semester early, if possible, would be beneficial for any football player.
Watford said the idea came to him after seeing other quarterbacks from the Hampton Roads region, such as Tajh Boyd and Phillip Sims, leave high school a semester early to get a head start with their respective college programs. Boyd -- from Phoebus High School in Hampton -- redshirted last season and has played in three games this season for Clemson, completing 6 of 14 passes for 107 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Sims -- from Oscar Smith High School in Chesapeake -- has yet to see the field on game day in his true freshman season at Alabama.
On Thursday, Virginia Coach Mike London was asked what he thought the advantages were to a player entering his college program a semester early. True freshman quarterback Michael Strauss enrolled at Virginia in the spring 2010 semester. He is below fifth-year senior Marc Verica, redshirt freshman Ross Metheny and true freshman Michael Rocco on the team's depth chart. Sophomore defensive tackle Will Hill also came to Virginia a semester early. After enrolling for the spring 2009 semester, Hill played in all 12 games last season, though mostly on special teams. He appeared in five games on defense and tallied one tackle.
"First, the opportunity to do that, I mean, obviously you have to have the academic qualifications to do that, number one, which [Strauss] did and which Will Hill did the year before that," London said. "Number two, it allows you to sort of get acclimated to, you know, college courses and the environment that you're going to be in for the next 4-5 years. And then number three, it allows you to try to gain, you know, a base knowledge of what systems that are in place. That was the benefit of what Michael Strauss and Will Hill had opportunities to do.
"Some high school young men, because of their curriculum, or their high school is set up that they can't graduate early. They have to finish all the way until the end of the year. Some high schools have opportunities to do that. Through the evaluation process, it's always tricky to find out those that can, those that have the grades, those that have the wherewithal, those that we can get admitted, and those candidates that we can present to admissions like that. It's not always clear-cut."
London acknowledged that it might not seem as though coming to Virginia a semester early gave Strauss much of an advantage in the quarterback competition. Rocco, who is ahead of Strauss on the depth chart and has played in two games already this season, enrolled at Virginia in the fall. But London noted that Strauss has benefitted from his decision in other ways.
"There's still some learning issues that he's got to get done," London said. "I know in the classroom that he and Will have done a nice job, so at least, if there's any other candidates to present, then there's a track record the last couple years, or the last two years, that have done it that can speak to the opportunities for them to have success. And if they have success, then any other candidates presented, as long as they present their academic qualifications, we may have an opportunity. But again, that's a case by case basis."
By NCAA rule, London is prohibited from speaking publicly about Watford or any other recruit that has yet to sign his letter of intent.
"In terms of Mike [Strauss], he went through spring practice and, you know, you wish that maybe he'd caught on a little sooner," London said. "But I tell you what, right now he is improving, having been around it ... It all depends. The learning curve for a lot of players, particularly at the quarterback position in a new system, there's such a curve to it that you never know. But Michael will be a good quarterback once he gets comfortable with what's going on and what's required of him."
| October 21, 2010; 2:07 PM ET
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