The Cavaliers continued to add transfers to the offense Sunday, receiving a pledge from graduate transfer running back Shane Simpson, who played for five seasons at Towson. Simpson, who chose UVa over Texas, will be immediately eligible and will have one year left. He also drew interest from Duke, Wake Forest, Florida State, Pittsburgh, Northwestern and Penn State.
When he's been healthy, Simpson has shown he can be a force in a variety of ways. In 2018, the 5-foot-11 195-pounder from Easton, Pa., averaged 171.5 all-purpose yards per game, good enough for second in FCS. He finished the year with 2,058 total yards (711 rushing, 356 receiving, 887 kick return, 104 punt return) and 12 touchdowns (six rushing, five receiving, one kick return) and was named an FCS first-team All-American as an all-purpose back. Additionally, he was tabbed all-CAA as a running back (first team), kick returner (second), and punt returner (third). In 2016, Simpson was named a freshman All-American after totaling 1,835 yards (784 rushing, 64 receiving, 915 kick return, 72 punt return) and four TDs (three rushing, one kick return). It's not hard to imagine how Simpson could fit into the offense (Olamide Zaccheaus anybody?), and Virginia just lost dynamic kick returner Joe Reed to graduation.
But Simpson has been injury-prone. Injuries ended his true freshman 2015 season, his 2017 campaign, and his senior year in 2019. He began 2019 in promising fashion, with 337 all-purpose yards in three games, including 7.4 yards per rush, and he scored a pair of rushing TDs and a receiving TD before he tore his ACL and MCL. But he's been granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA and will try to showcase his talent on the FBS level in Charlottesville as he tries to persuade the NFL to take a shot on him.
Simpson actually planned to play his final season at Towson, but in July, the CAA decided it would suspend fall season sports due to the pandemic. He still possibly could've played for Towson in the spring, but he decided to transfer instead.
Virginia has picked up five transfers on the offensive side of the ball in the offseason (in reverse chronological order):
The first four are all graduate transfers who are immediately eligible. Walker is still awaiting word if he will be eligible in 2020, but the hope is that he will be. In my 2020 look-ahead, I expressed concern surrounding the lack of depth at running back for Virginia, but those concerns have pretty much been allayed with Simpson's commitment. Walker being eligible would be icing on the cake at this point.