Phillip Sims Cleared to Play in 2012
By Matthew Osborne
Follow us at Twitter.com/SouthernPigskin. Become a fan at the SouthernPigskin.com Facebook Page
Phillip Sims has been granted a waiver by the NCAA, making him eligible to compete for the Virginia Cavaliers this fall.
Rising sophomore quarterback Phillip Sims, who recently transferred from Alabama to Virginia, has been granted a waiver from the NCAA that will allow him to compete for the Cavaliers this fall.
Sims was engaged in a heated battle with A.J. McCarron for Alabama’s starting quarterback position during last year’s fall camp, but ultimately was beaten out for the job. A native of the state of Virginia, Sims announced his intentions to transfer shortly after the conclusion of spring practice. The NCAA normally requires student-athletes to sit out for one year after transferring from one FBS program to another, but Sims submitted a waiver request to the NCAA following his announcement that he would enroll in classes at Virginia.
Sims cited family circumstances as his reason for transferring, which led NCAA officials to approve his waiver request. While the Virginia program was certainly prepared to play the 2012 season without an eligible Sims, head coach Mike London is understandably enthused with the news that his new quarterback will be able to help the team this fall. “Virginia football welcomes Phillip Sims to our family,” London said in a release. “Hopefully he will have a productive career here at UVa as his previous accolades have shown.”
With it now official that Sims will play for the Cavaliers this season, the question now becomes how this will affect Virginia’s quarterback situation. Sims is a former five-star prospect who possesses some of the finest physical tools of any quarterback in the nation. His arm strength and accuracy made him one of the most coveted prospects in the entire 2010 class.
Although Sims was the most physically gifted quarterback on Alabama’s roster last season, there were some lingering questions about his decision-making, which is to be expected out of any young signal caller at the collegiate ranks. McCarron ultimately became the full-time starter due to his superior understanding of defensive concepts. After an additional year of training, however, it should be expected that Sims has made significant strides in his decision-making abilities. Sims completed 9-of-12 passes for 135 yards and two scores in Alabama’s most recent spring game, showcasing an improved understanding of coverage concepts in the process.
In order for Sims to become Virginia’s starter this fall, though, he will have to beat out returning starter Michael Rocco. Rocco, who was also involved in a highly-competitive quarterback competition last summer, completed 60.7% of his passes last season, and finished the year with 2,671 yards, 13 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. While Rocco’s performance was respectable for a first-year sophomore starter, it was not necessarily enough to shield him from the pressures of another quarterback competition. Looking ahead to this fall, it will be interesting to see which quarterback will emerge as the starter for the Cavaliers’ season opener against Richmond. Sims certainly has the upper-hand from a skills standpoint, but Rocco has a significant head-start with the Cavaliers’ playbook. Even with Rocco’s advanced knowledge of the Virginia playbook, it would be hard for the Cavalier coaches to keep Sims on the sideline if he shows at least a solid grasp of the offense.
Although he might not be under center when the Cavaliers open the season on Saturday 1, expect to see Sims take over as Virginia’s full-time starter at some point during the 2012 campaign.