Virginia tight end Jake McGee is transferring, dealing a huge blow to the Cavaliers long before they break preseason camp.
The 6-foot-6 tight end, referred to frequently by coach Mike London as ''one of our best players,'' will graduate in May.
''I want to thank Jake for his contributions to the Virginia program and wish him the best,'' London said in a statement announcing McGee's decision. ''When I came to UVa, he was one of the first players we recruited because he had committed to play for me at Richmond. I am very proud of the fact he will graduate from the university this spring. I hope he finds a program that fits his desires for his final season as a college player.''
McGee was the leading returning receiver for the Cavaliers with 43 catches last season and was expected to play an even bigger role this season. He sat out Virginia's spring game earlier this month with what were described as minor injuries, but had drawn raves for his work in spring camp.
London even altered McGee's position from purely tight end to tight end and wide receiver hoping to make better use of his athleticism, which he's demonstrated time and again with spectacular catches in games and in practice. London said McGee figured prominently in red-zone passing situations.
McGee, who gave no indication of where he's heading, will have one year of eligibility remaining, but will be eligible to play right away.
He was among those most visibly upset at the end of last season, when the Cavaliers finished 2-10, and challenged his teammates to respond.
''It's not going to be enough just to show back up next fall,'' he said then. ''Guys are really going to have to put the time in and do what it takes to turn this thing around. ... We have to dig deep and look into things to see what we need to do to change it. Two and 10 is not going to cut it.''
In a statement released by McGee through the school Friday, he said he will always consider himself a ''Wahoo,'' Virginia's other nickname.
''I have tremendous respect for Coach London and this football team, but I have decided to pursue my future career elsewhere,'' the statement read. ''This is a personal decision and in no way should reflect on this team or its coaches. I want to thank my teammates, coaches, and especially the Wahoo fans for the endless support. Go Hoos.''