GREENSBORO, N.C. — Though coach Mike London had a pretty good idea David Watford was the best candidate for Virginia's open quarterback spot heading into August after spring practices ended, it didn't hurt to have Navy Seals confirm London's suspicions.
London said Monday at the Atlantic Coast Conference Kickoff preseason media gathering Watford, a Hampton High graduate who's entering his sophomore season, will be atop the depth chart Aug. 4 when players report to Charlottesville. Greyson Lambert, a strong-armed 6-foot-5 redshirt freshman, will be No. 2 at the position.
"Going into this season, there is no quarterback controversy," said London, who added the plan is to name a starter for the Aug. 31 season opener against Brigham Young as soon as possible.
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"Early on in August camp, you'll know definitively who the starting quarterback is. I would say that as we ended spring practice, the guy that has the most experience would be that of David right now. The (reins are) not handed to David, because Greyson Lambert is going to be special as well."
During the offseason, Watford caught London's attention with some not-so unusual, but encouraging signs of maturity, like routine film sessions in the McCue Center that lasted until 8 p.m. and the initiative to organize 7-on-7 practices.
Yet, the appraisal of a group of Navy Seals that came to workout with players on campus during the offseason helped to further promote Watford as the favorite to win the starting job.
London said the Navy Seals evaluated players based on leadership skills without knowing the names of the players before workouts began. Watford was deemed to be one of the team's best leaders.
Even further endorsement for Watford came from his own teammates, when they voted him the team's top leader. Lambert hasn't played a single snap in a college football game, but he still finished in the top 12 in the voting for team leader.
"To have the guy that touches the ball 100 percent of the time to be the No. 1 guy (in the vote), and another to be amongst the leaders that our guys on our team look to, I think that's significant," London said. "Going into August camp, and knowing that there are guys on our team that respect these two players immensely, that bodes well for us."
After posting largely uninspiring numbers in 10 games as a true freshman backup in 2011, when he completed 40.5 percent of his passes for 346 yards, three touchdowns and four interceptions, Watford will have a chance to earn the job without having to look over his shoulder.
He rotated in the '11 season for the first seven games with Michael Rocco. Last season, Rocco split quarterback duties with Phillip Sims, while Watford took a redshirt. This season, Rocco and Sims are both gone, and London wants to have one quarterback.
"Not once did David ever complain about anything," said London regarding Watford's redshirt season. "He wanted to do what was best for the team. What I learned about him is a lot of guys … gripe and moan about where they are, how come they're not playing and where they are on the depth chart, David just closed his mouth, worked out, lifted, ran, studied."
Offensive tackle Morgan Moses compared Watford to another Hampton High alum and U.Va.'s first-year wide receivers coach, referring to Watford as a "modern day Marques Hagans" in terms of passing and scrambling ability. Watford's elusiveness in comparison to Lambert could put him over the hump in the race for the starting job, but it doesn't appear to be his only asset.
"He could've just sat around and got worse last year, but he decided to come out every day in practice and get the defense better by playing scout team," Moses said. "That's a guy you want in the huddle. You want a guy that's willing to do the things that nobody else is doing, put his ego aside."