Virginia coach Mike London knew going to see noted quarterback guru George Whitfield was a big deal to David Watford when Watford paid for his own plane ticket during spring break to get to California to work with Whitfield.

Though Watford is equipped with new techniques to use at his position, his role isn't getting any easier. He has to take what he's learned and incorporate it with what he has to do to run U.Va.'s offense, but there's a more pressing job in front of Watford, a junior who graduated from Hampton High.

He still has to win the starting job again.

With less than a week-and-a-half of practices left before U.Va.'s spring game April 12, it looks like a primarily two-man race — Watford and sophomore Greyson Lambert — has developed for the starting quarterback job. A decision may come at the end of the spring, or the competition could push into preseason practices in August.

"I believe that the quarterback position will be based on being accurate and being efficient because there's guys (around the quarterbacks) that we feel have improved their game significantly," said London on Wednesday. "When that decision (is made) will be largely decided upon which player separates himself from the other."

While London, offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild and associate head coach for offense Tom O'Brien continue to get good looks at Watford, Lambert and sophomore quarterback Matt Johns, London wasn't able to get much of an extended glimpse of freshman defensive tackle Andrew Brown this spring. Brown, a January enrollee from Oscar Smith High in Chesapeake, suffered a turf toe injury less than two weeks ago and will miss the rest of spring practices.

"It's going to require him missing the rest of spring practice," London said. "We only have two weeks left, and it's unfortunate. It was a freak accident that occurred ... . It's a little bit of a setback, but he'll be ready to go in the fall."

Brown, who was working with the first team defense early in the spring, has no control over his missed opportunities to catch the attention of the coaching staff, but other players have taken advantage of extra reps in practice.

London mentioned he's been impressed this spring with safety Anthony Harris, cornerback Maurice Canady, running back Taquan Mizzell and wide receivers Darius Jennings, Keeon Johnson and Andre Levrone. London said Johnson "looks like a man is out there. He's probably one of our strongest players on our team."

Jennings, who has had several drops in the past two seasons, is wearing new contact lenses this spring. London said the contacts have made a world of difference in his performance.

"I believe he's caught everything that's been thrown to him," London said. "It sounds like it might be kind of a small adjustment, but it's major in the fact that he feels more comfortable. He's probably our fastest guy at the receiver position and he's caught some vertical balls downfield, which is something that we need."

In Watford's work with Whitfield, who has tutored players like Cam Newton, Ben Roethlisberger, Andrew Luck, Johnny Manziel, Donovan McNabb, E.J. Manuel, former Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas and Phoebus High graduate Tajh Boyd, London said there was an emphasis on setting up prior to passes, technical aspects like bending legs before releasing the ball instead of having a straight leg at the time of release and specifics about releasing the ball.

"He spent a week out there, but you develop habits over the course of a period of time," London said. "The key is now for David, based on what he was taught, is to continue to keep using those techniques and those coaching points that he's used. He's doing it. He's got to keep on doing it."

Last season, Watford started all 12 games for a 2-10 U.Va. team that lost its last nine games in a row. He completed 57.1 percent of his passes for 2,202 yards, eight touchdowns and 15 interceptions. Lambert played in seven games, completing just 44 percent of his passes for 340 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions.

With U.Va.'s offensive line depleted this spring because of injuries, London said the coaching staff has given the quarterbacks equal reps with the first team. Watford has been invited back to work again with Whitfield, according to London.

"It meant a lot for (Watford) to make that journey out there," London said. "George has done a lot of nice things working on the technical part of quarterbacks' games, but (Watford) still has to come back and play the system and the scheme that we're asking him to do, and be very efficient and very accurate."

Wood can be reached by phone at 757-247-4642.