For the second consecutive spring semester, Richmond’s football team is bringing in a transfer quarterback from the University of Virginia.
Michael Rocco has followed in Michael Strauss’s footsteps, going from a Cavalier to a Spider.
“We were friends at UVA,” Strauss said of Rocco. “On the field, we compete, but off the field, we were friends and hung out.”
Strauss, a sophomore, will be forced to compete once again with Rocco, a junior, but that competition may not come for two seasons. Per NCAA rules, Rocco must sit out a year because he’s transferring with only one year of eligibility remaining. Richmond is seeking a waiver to allow Rocco to play next season, but Strauss has been told the ruling doesn’t look like it will be in Rocco’s favor, he said.
Michael Rocco’s name should be a familiar one to Richmond fans for a couple reasons. He is UR head coach Danny Rocco’s nephew for one, and he led the Cavaliers to victory over the Spiders, 43-19, in the 2012 season opener. Michael Rocco passed for 311 yards and a touchdown in that game, while Strauss threw for his first collegiate touchdown after coming in for starter John Laub when Laub lost his helmet in the second quarter.
Danny Rocco was unavailable for comment because he’s at a coach’s conference, said Scott Burns, assistant director of athletic public relation.
After starting all 13 games during UVA’s 2011 campaign when the team went 8-5, Michael Rocco started just eight games in 2012, splitting time with Alabama transfer Phillip Sims. The Cavaliers finished 4-8, with Sims starting the team’s final four games.
Meanwhile, Strauss started the final four games of Richmond’s 2012 season after Laub suffered an injury. Strauss led the Spiders to victories in all four, leaving many to wonder why Coach Rocco would look to bring in another quarterback.
“It just makes me work a little bit harder and to make sure I never get too comfortable,” Strauss said. “Makes sure I stay on my toes and just keep getting better.”
Coach Rocco told Strauss that his nephew transferring to Richmond might be a possibility right before Strauss left campus for winter break, Strauss said.
“I never really thought it would actually happen,” he said. “[Coach Rocco] has called me, kept me up to date with every bit of the process. He came to me and told me this was a possibility, not because of anything I’ve done or a lack of confidence in me. It was more of they just wanted to bring in another guy with experience at the position.”
Aside from Michael Rocco, the Spiders brought in two other transfers in wide receiver Shane Savage from Cornell and tight end Sean Fitzpatrick from University of North Carolina. All three will be enrolled in classes when spring semester begins on Jan. 14.
Contact staff writer David Weissman at firstname.lastname@example.org