Tuesday, January 08, 2013
UVa's Rocco plans transfer to Richmond
The former Virginia quarterback will join his uncle, Danny Rocco, who is head coach of the Richmond Spiders.
The Roanoke Times | File September
Richmond coach Danny Rocco argues a call when the Spiders played Virginia at Scott Stadium. Rocco's nephew Mike Rocco is planning to transfer to Richmond from Virginia.
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Rocco, who started for the Cavaliers in last year’s opener against the Spiders, has decided to transfer to Richmond.
At Richmond, Rocco will be playing for his uncle, Danny.
Michael Rocco, who stands eighth on UVa’s list for career passing yardage, received a release from his scholarship after an early December meeting with Cavaliers’ coach Mike London.
It was Rocco’s initial intention to transfer to a school in the Football Bowl Subdivision, sit out the 2013 season and then play as a fifth-year senior in 2014.
Richmond plays in the Football Championship Subdivision, where transfers from an FBS school can have instant eligibility, but it is uncertain whether Rocco will be eligible to play next season.
“Even in Division I-AA [or FCS], you’re required to sit out a year if you’re transferring for your last year,” Frank Rocco, Michael’s dad, said. “His situation is a little different because he has two seasons to play one.”
Michael Rocco was never redshirted at Virginia, where he started 21 of 26 games over the past two seasons.
Rocco had considered a visit this past weekend to Temple, which will have three senior quarterbacks after next season, but informed new Owls’ coach Matt Rhule that he would be more comfortable at Richmond.
Another issue was timing. The second semester at Temple doesn’t start until Jan. 21 but the second semester at Richmond starts Jan. 14.
“This gives him a little breathing room,” said Frank Rocco, who said his son was at a library Monday afternoon, writing an essay for his Richmond application.
Not only does Spiders’ head coach Danny Rocco have Virginia connections as an assistant to former UVa head coach Al Groh, but Richmond’s starting quarterback for the final four games of the season — all U of R victories — was Michael Strauss.
Strauss transferred from Virginia to Richmond following the 2011 season.
“That caused some angst because they’ve competed against each other before and now they’ll be competing against each other again,” Frank Rocco said. “But, [Strauss] has two years of eligibility remaining. It’s not like he’ll never play again. In reality, he’s going to be able to play one year or two.”
The Roccos found the transfer process to be an “education,” in Frank’s words. The Southeastern Conference, for one, does not allow final-year transfers and Vanderbilt said it could not talk to them.
However, Alabama receivers coach Mike Groh had expressed interest in Rocco in the event that quarterback A.J. McCarron went to the NFL, but McCarron has said he is coming back to college.
It is Rocco’s preference to play next year at Richmond but, if he isn’t eligible, he’ll have the opportunity return to Scott Stadium when the Cavaliers and Spiders meet in 2014.
He was one of three incoming transfers identified Monday by Richmond, which will be adding former North Carolina tight end Sean Fitzpatrick and wide receiver Shane Savage from Cornell, where he had 154 receptions in three seasons.
The opportunity to play for his uncle was a factor, Rocco’s father said, and there also was a precedent. Frank Rocco’s older son, Chris, played for Danny Rocco at Liberty.
“He saw the way his brother interacted with his uncle,” Frank Rocco, “and that gave him a comfort level that he wouldn’t have everywhere.”