Chris Graham: ‘Hoo gets the call?

Hmm. David Watford. That’s the buzz among those who have been over to Charlottesville for practices, that the true freshman has been dazzling in the preseason.

But then … there’s Michael Rocco. The safe choice. A redshirt sophomore, has been in the system for three years. Rocco is the safe choice if you’re Mike London and you’re thinking that the people who are saying your Cavs might win six or seven games this fall are right.

Rocco isn’t going to dazzle anybody; his job is to hand the ball off, hit the tight end over the middle on play-actions, occasionally hit a deep ball when the safeties cheat up too much, and otherwise not turn the ball over.

Watford is the upside guy. His playmaking abilities are off the charts. Think Tyrod Taylor – Watford will one day be able to beat you with his feet and with his arm.

Taylor is a good comparison point for another reason. My fear here is that London is going to call Rocco’s name for the opener against William and Mary next week, and put Watford at #2 on the depth chart. Inevitably, the fans, having heard so much about this Watford kid since he committed last year, are going to clamor, and just as inevitably, Rocco is going to go through some sort of rough patch; every quarterback does.

What I’d hate to see is Watford burn a year or two like Taylor burned his freshman and sophomore years at Virginia Tech alternating with Sean Glennon. I remember Frank Beamer addressing that topic at last year’s ACC Football Kickoff. Of course in retrospect it was a dumb move; Beamer would have Taylor back this fall instead of us being able to see him impress in the preseason with the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens.

That Rocco is a sophomore further complicates this. If he gets the nod and Watford is installed at #2, there’s only that one year separating them eligibility-wise. We could see the two battling it out for the starting job for the next three years.

Here’s what I’m rooting for – actually that Watford gets the starting nod. But if he doesn’t get it, redshirt him. He comes back next year as a redshirt frosh, and begins grooming to take over his junior year.

More columns at

uva basketball team of destiny

Team of Destiny: Inside UVA Basketball's improbable run

Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, by Jerry Ratcliffe and Chris Graham, is available for $25.

The book, with additional reporting by Zach Pereles, Scott Ratcliffe and Scott German, will take you from the aftermath of the stunning first-round loss to UMBC in 2018, and how coach Tony Bennett and his team used that loss as the source of strength, through to the ACC regular-season championship, the run to the Final Four, and the thrilling overtime win over Texas Tech to win the 2019 national title, the first in school history.

augusta free press


%d bloggers like this: