Virginia Football: Phillip Sims Gets Waiver but Will Have to Fight to Start

Michael FelderNational CFB Lead WriterJuly 12, 2012

TUSCALOOSA, AL - OCTOBER 08:  Phillip Sims #14 of the Alabama Crimson Tide against the Vanderbilt Commodores at Bryant-Denny Stadium on October 8, 2011 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Yesterday news was released that Alabama transfer quarterback, Phillip Sims, has received the ever elusive transfer waiver, as College Football Talk reports. Great for him. Another transfer, Michael Dyer, is likely not going to be so lucky when it comes to being allowed to play in year one at Arkansas State. Good for Sims, good move by the NCAA, albeit a lucky crap shoot because players with more legitimate requests have been shut down. Good all around as Sims gets to play, Virginia gets a talented young man added to their roster, and the NCAA avoids more scrutiny.

However, the honeymoon will be short-lived for the newly minted Cavalier quarterback. With fall camp just a couple weeks away, the heat will be on in Charlottesville at the quarterback position. On one side you have Phillip Sims, the former 4-star, elite 11 quarterback. Sims is a native son where Virginia is concerned, one of the many talented kids to come out of the super talented Tidewater region of Virginia. That's the same area that claims two current ACC star quarterbacks, Tajh Boyd and EJ Manuel.

In the other corner we have the unheralded 2-star recruit, Michael Rocco, who hails from Lynchburg, Virginia. The rising junior won the starting job a season ago and showed himself to be quite capable. With Rocco as the incumbent and projected starter and Sims looking to find his way on to the field the stage is set for the Wahoos to have one of the more interesting quarterback battles on the college football landscape.

Sims is going to have plenty of support in his corner and Rocco is going to feel the pressure of one of Virginia's big high school stars breathing down his neck during this quarterback competition. The thing that will make this battle interesting is that Rocco is a pretty cool customer who does not seem like the type to just give the job away without a fight. Up until the Sims transfer waiver, this was his football team. There is no reason that should change if you walk into camp as Michael Rocco.

For all of the accolades we have not really seen much of what Phillip Sims can do. In games for the Tide he is 18 for 28 and has thrown two interceptions. The redshirt freshman was unable to beat out AJ McCarron to start the 2011 season and was used sparingly in the Tide's BCS Championship campaign. However, many folks remember him for the super star that he was coming out of Oscar Smith High School and they expect him to duplicate that success when he hits the field for the Cavaliers.

However, it will not be easy as many folks believe. Michael Rocco is a fighter and he won the job outright by his play on the field. Sure, his stats are not overwhelming: 60.7 completion percentage, just 2,671 yards in the air and a 13:12 touchdown to interception ratio. However, look past the stats and you see a quarterback that grew as the Cavaliers settled into a groove in 2011. After throwing eight interceptions in his first six games the sophomore threw just four in the final seven. The Virginia Tech game was a massive step back, but for the Wahoos as a whole that game is one to forget about. By that same token, his performance against Florida State, 71 percent passing, 238 yards and a touchdown, stands as a reminder of what the kid can do.

This is not going to be a job that Sims is handed. After losing out to AJ McCarron he stands a real risk of being in the same position at Virginia. Michael Rocco is not going to just fork over the starting gig to Sims and the Wahoos have a team built to run the football that is going to make the maturing Rocco a tough man to unseat in Charlottesville.