CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - The Virginia football team was busy in the transfer portal this offseason.
UVA added QB Keytaon Thompson (Miss State), running back Ronnie Walker (Indiana), tight end Tony Poljan (Central Michigan), and wide receiver Ra’Shaun Henry (St. Francis).
JMU defensive lineman Adeeb Atariwah and defensive back D’Angelo Amos transferred to Virginia, after the Dukes’ fall season was canceled.
Former Towson running back Shane Simpson joined the ‘Hoos as a graduate transfer in early August, and he’s been getting time with the First Team offense during Fall Camp.
”I’m definitely really, really, really comfortable in Charlottesville,” says Simpson, “especially transitioning from Towson to UVA. The offense isn’t too much different, just have to get accustomed to how everything is ran here.”
Junior running back Wayne Taulapapa says, “He’s a very seasoned player, veteran player. When you see him run the ball, when you see him go out for passes, when you see him block, you can tell that he’s been playing the game of football for a long time. Very educated on what’s what, and it’s very easy for him to pick up the plays.”
Simpson will be counted on to be a big part of the offense.
With Mike Hollins opting out, Taulapapa is the only returning running back who received any carries last year (116-473-12TD).
The Cavaliers will have a new quarterback, and inexperienced wide receivers, so the running backs may carry added responsibility.
Taulapapa says, “Everyday has to be an RB Day, where our mindset has to be there. Coach (Mark) Atuaia preaches it best, that mindset is really what keeps us afloat. I feel that I have to carry on that legacy, when it comes to mindset. It’s always coming with a 100-percent, mean, rugged attitude. Being able to push the mindset, and push the boundaries of each running back, is the goal.”
Simpson says, “In today’s day and age of football, a running back just can’t be able to run the ball. They have to catch, block, receive the ball out of the backfield, and sometimes even motion out of the backfield, and run routes. That’s something I pride myself on, and the guys in the room do, as well.”
Simpson had more than two-thousand all-purpose yards in 2018, and was named First Team All-America.
He was also the CAA Special Teams Player of the Year that season, but missed most of last year with a knee injury.
The UVA football team is scheduled to open the season in Week Two at Virginia Tech on September 19th.