UVA's Sharp a veteran presence at running back

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 SPORTS) -- There are six running backs listed between the two running back spots on Virginia's depth chart for Saturday night's season opener at Pitt. Only one of those six has scored a touchdown in a college game.

Chris Sharp is entering his fifth season with the UVA football program. He's one of the seven holdovers still on the roster from Mike London's time as head coach, having redshirted during London's final season in 2015.

Sharp switched between running back and safety and back to running back in his time at UVA. He endured the culture reset that came with Bronco Mendenhall's arrival as head coach, and the ensuing two-win season in 2016. That was followed by a Military Bowl appearance in Mendenhall's second year, then last year's eight-win performance that was capped by a victory in the Belk Bowl.

"Coming where we came from, experiencing the success that's coming and that we're working for, it's definitely a great experience," Sharp said. "The class that I came in with, we're reaping the benefits of everything that we went through, so it's a great experience."

Sharp has 13 career carries and six career catches in a UVA uniform. He scored his first career rushing touchdown at Louisville in 2017, and caught a pair of touchdown passes from Bryce Perkins last year.

The gameplan at running back is unsettled for UVA entering opening weekend, with sophomore Wayne Taulapapa and juniors PK Kier and Lamont Atkins listed as co-starters at one spot, and Sharp listed with junior Jamari Peacock and true freshman Mike Hollins as co-starters at the other.

Sharp says he takes pride in his role as a veteran mentor to the younger running backs on the UVA roster, both on and off the field. It's a role former Wahoos like Smoke Mizzell and Albert Reid served for Sharp early in his career.

According to Mendenhall, Sharp's presence has been valuable throughout his time at UVA.

"He just is committed to everything that we do as a program, and he loves how we do it. And it's just steady, where he's always doing what he's supposed to do," Mendenhall said. "And when you have older players like that, that are just no-nonsense and matter-of-fact about how we do things, and they're not afraid to tell others how we do things -- or show them, in his case it's more showing -- that's a nice partnership to have as a head coach."

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