Elliott: UVA QB competition will 'make cream rise to the top'
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 SPORTS) -- For the first time in three years a quarterback not named Brennan Armstrong will take the first snap in Virginia's season-opener in 2023.
Tony Elliott returned a quarterback room with sophomore Jay Woolfolk, redshirt freshmen Delaney Crawford and Davis Lane and brought in high school recruit Anthony Colandrea, an early enrollee next semester. So Elliott went into the transfer portal with one key word on his mind, experience, and found it in Monmouth transfer Tony Muskett.
"We were looking for a guy with some experience and I think the first thing that jumps out is he's played three years, he was the freshman of the year in his conference and then he was back-to-back first team all-conference in his league," Elliott said, "He's done what he needed to do at that level, he feels like he can compete at this level, we believe he can compete at this level and so we felt like it was a good fit."
Muskett arrives at Virginia with two years of eligibility after three seasons with Monmouth where he threw for 5,687 yards and 51 touchdowns. The Virginia native was a two-time first team All-Big South selection and arrives with something to prove, the perfect fit for Elliott's program.
"So we were looking for a guy that's experienced, a guy that's competitive, that wanted to come in and compete, that wasn't going to be afraid of the competition that he was going to have to go through if he wanted to be the guy," Elliott said, "He's from the state of Virginia. Just has a chip on his shoulder, I think as a program right now we have a chip on our shoulder, we have a lot to prove to a lot of people."
Returning backup quarterback Jay Woolfolk also has a lot of people to prove something to across multiple sports. Woolfolk not only has his eyes of taking the reigns from Armstrong after backing up the UVA record-setter the last two seasons, but also earning a weekend starting pitching role for the Virginia baseball team.
"We're going to have to put together a schedule for him because he's legitimately in contention to be a weekend starter and I don't want to hinder that progress," Elliott said, "But at the same time too if he wants to be the starting quarterback at the University of Virginia, he's going to have to be present in practice."
Last spring during Woolfolk's freshman season, the dual-sport athlete was able to purely focus on baseball as one of the Cavaliers most reliable and electric arms out of the bullpen, earning Freshman All-American honors from Collegiate Baseball Newspaper. UVA baseball coach Brian O'Connor said there is no one on Grounds with more on their plate than Woolfolk last spring, but that plate looks a lot fuller this spring while in contention for two major roles.
"Coach O'Connor and I are going to meet in detail once we get through signing day and get through the Christmas break and get back and really put together a plan of what that looks like," Elliott said.
Redshirt freshman Delaney Crawford will also return the to the quarterback room full time, after coaches tried to find a way to get his athleticism on the field last season at receiver or on kick return. Between Muskett, Woolfolk and the rest of the young crop of quarterbacks, Elliott feels the Cavaliers have a well-balanced competition to replace Armstrong starting in the spring.
"And then you have Muskett here, so I'm excited about the competition," Elliott said, "I think the competition is going to make the cream rise to the top."