Bronco on Briggs exit: “I didn’t see warning signs”

By Jerry Ratcliffe

Jowon Briggs

Jowon Briggs

Virginia coach Bronco Mendenhall said Tuesday night that he was as surprised as anyone when he learned that starting sophomore nose tackle Jowon Briggs was leaving the team and entering the transfer portal.

“I didn’t see warning signs,” Mendenhall said during his weekly coach’s show from the Boar’s Head Resort. “My response was like everyone else’s, like ‘What?’”

Briggs, who started seven games as a true freshman last season, has been a strong part of Virginia’s front seven this season and a key figure in the Cavaliers’ ability to shut down opponent’s running games.

“I absolutely and always have loved Jowon Briggs,” Mendenhall said of the 6-foot-1, 310-pound sophomore. “He is an amazing person first of all. Holy smokes he’s a good football player. And he has all these other interests that he’s so skilled at in terms of [musical] instruments and music and social interests. That part is not going to change. I feel really lucky to have had the chance to coach him and try to help him in the time that I’ve had.”

Mendenhall declined to comment on any reasons Briggs may have had in deciding to leave the football program.

“Any reason at this point will be private, personal for him,” Mendenhall said.

The coach noted that if Briggs wants to discuss reasons leading to his decision, it’s up to him.

Mendenhall said he would like to offer his help in finding exactly what Briggs is looking for.

“Part of that is really trying to understand,” the coach said. “I want every person in our program to have an amazing experience. I’ve also learned, and it hurts, that in coaching you cannot please everybody.”

Mendenhall said that Briggs was a person that the coach felt fitted so well at UVA.

“This is my first player that’s played a significant role that’s transferred,” Mendenhall added.


Mendenhall also shared that senior starting left guard Dillon Reinkensmeyer is finished for the season after suffering a lower extremity injury against Louisville. Reinkensmeyer was helped off the field and later appeared on the sidelines on crutches.

“For Dillon, it appears he is done for the year,” Mendenhall said. “What an amazing person he is. It was a challenge seeing him lying out there on the field and thinking this might be a significant injury, which it was.”

Mendenhall also said that starting tight end Tony Poljan and receiver, kickoff returner Tavares Kelly, Jr., “will return at some point.” He did not indicate when that might be.

Poljan left the game after taking a hard hit that was reviewed for targeting, but there was no penalty. Kelly left after taking a blow on a kickoff return.



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