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Watford works his way to top of Cavs' QB chart

CHARLOTTESVILLE

Virginia quarterback David Watford didn't take much time off for Spring Break.

According to his cousin, U.Va. receivers coach Marques Hagans, Watford went home to Hampton for two days and then returned to Charlottesville to resume training.

Coaches notice things like that. So do teammates, head coach Mike London said.

Watford began spring atop U.Va.'s depth chart and goes into the Cavaliers' spring game today at 1 p.m. at Scott Stadium as a leading contender to start in the fall.

This is Watford's third spring at U.Va., but he hasn't played since the fall of 2011, when he appeared in 10 games as backup to Michael Rocco.

The Cavaliers' quarterback situation became more complicated last May, when former Oscar Smith star Phillip Sims, the backup on Alabama's 2011 national championship team, transferred in.

After petitioning the NCAA, Sims was granted immediate eligibility and the Cavs redshirted Watford, who played as a true freshman in 2011.

"It was a tough time in my life, really a low point, not for the fact I was redshirting but because I had put so much work in," said Watford, a 6-foot-1, 200-pounder.

Watford regularly took reps with the scout team, impersonating opposing quarterbacks. He also became more of a student of the game.

"Not saying I didn't work hard, but I wasn't working hard enough," Watford said. "I wasn't watching enough film. I wasn't breaking down enough coverages. Just the fundamental things held me back and I wasn't being enough of a leader.

"I didn't know how to lead. I didn't know how to control the huddle. I feel I can do all that stuff now."

To outsiders, it was hard to see how Watford would get on the field in 2013 with the expected return of Rocco and Sims, who started eight and four games, respectively, and combined to pass for more than 3,000 yards in 2012.

Rocco has since transferred to Richmond.

Greyson Lambert, a redshirt freshman, was listed No. 2 on the depth chart at the beginning of spring drills.

Little reason has been given for Sims' drop to No. 3, with London cautioning not to read too much into the depth chart.

"I don't know nothin' about how it came that way or what's going on," Sims said early in spring practice. "But, it is what it is, man. Offseason went as good as I could have hoped for. I don't think it was that."

When Watford redshirted, he had to wonder if he was ever going to play.

"I didn't really worry about it," he said. "The thought kind of crept into my head. There was a part of me, wanting to be a leader, to challenge myself to kill that thought.

"I didn't come here to sit. Nobody came here to sit. I didn't have the thought, 'I'm going to be stuck behind these guys.' It was more like, 'I'm going to play, whatever I have to do.' "

London said the quarterbacks are being evaluated on accuracy, decision-making and ability to run the huddle.

"David's in a bit of a unique situation in that he played early and then redshirted," London said.

"So, there's a hunger for him to get on the field and contribute. There's a knowledge base that he's (aquired acquired) through playing and watching."

A change in offensive coordinators from Bill Lazor to Steve Fairchild has been relatively seamless, according to Watford.

"We have a ton of weapons," Watford said, "and coach Fairchild's offense is limitless. I'm excited, just so excited for this year."

Posted to: College Football Sports Virginia

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The old saying...

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