Veteran sportswriter Doug Doughty writes a weekly column for Cardinal News. Sign up for our free email newsletter here.
As he approaches his second season as Virginia’s head football coach, Tony Elliott was no less optimistic to UVa supporters on Tuesday night at the Roanoke Country Club as he was one year earlier at Hunting Hills in Roanoke.
The Cavaliers were 3-7 last year in a season that was cut short when three UVa football players were shot and killed the day after a 37-17 loss to Pittsburgh in Charlottesville.
“For us, it’s a quiet time,” Elliott said Tuesday night. “The NCAA has put in rules that, once the spring game is over, everything is voluntary and you can’t make anything mandatory except for class attendance.”
One of the chief items surrounding UVa’s football program is the need to find a successor to quarterback Brennan Armstrong, who transferred to North Carolina State, where he will be under the tutelage of former UVa offensive coordinator Robert Anae.
On top of that, Armstrong’s back-up at Virginia, Jay Woolfolk, is a pitcher who serves as the closer on the Cavaliers’ NCAA-bound baseball team. Woolfolk received an invitation to USA Baseball Collegiate National Team training camp in late June. He was one of 54 underclassmen to earn an invite.
“We’ve got NIL, we’ve got the transfer portal, and the hardest thing I’ve had to figure out is his 20 hours per week during spring ball,” Elliott said.
“He’s allowed only 20 hours of competitive work between football and baseball and his pitching schedule, so about half the practices he was able to throw. He was present at every practice and, if he was able to throw, we had him on a throw count.
“So he had 40 [football] passes he would throw because he might be pitching the next day. One week, we had him scheduled to throw 40 passes and coach [Brian O’Connor] called and said, ‘We’ve got a top 25 team coming in, can you do me a favor?’ “
So, Woolfolk didn’t throw that day.
“He did a lot of work in the film room with the coaches,” Elliott said. “When he could throw, he looked really, really good. What I see is, he’s going to be turned loose once we get him back from baseball.
“He’s a dynamic athlete with a big arm. He’s developing every single day. He’s a guy, when all is said and done, to have a pro career in both football and baseball.”
Woolfolk will be challenged by Tony Musket, a transfer from Monmouth who originally played for West Springfield High School in Northern Virginia.
“He was a guy who got overlooked because of COVID recruiting,” Elliott said. “He didn’t have a chance to be exposed through the camp circuit.”
UVa added another quarterback in January, Anthony Colandrea from Lakewood High School in St. Petersburg, Florida, who enrolled early as a freshman. His team was 35-4 during his high school career.