UVA picks up Minnesota punter Sparks through transfer portal

By Jerry Ratcliffe

Photo: Pioneer Press

Virginia’s Tony Elliott found himself in a little of a bind during spring football practice when the Cavaliers had only one punter on their roster.

Brendan Farrell, a junior with no game experience as a punter, handled all those chores in the spring game. Clearly, Elliott desired to have a little more depth, if not experience, at that spot.

On Tuesday, UVA gained a commitment from Minnesota transfer Daniel Sparks, who has at least three years of eligibility remaining. Sparks announced his commitment on his Twitter account.

Originally from Gadsden, Alabama, the 6-foot-6, 200-pounder averaged 46 yards per punt at Gadsden City High School. His freshman season in college, Sparks punted for Louisiana-Monroe in 2020, played in all 10 games and finished second in the Sun Belt Conference with a 44.6 yards average on 30 punts. He also kicked off 33 times for six touchbacks and pinned opponents inside the 20 on five occasions with his punts.

He transferred to Minnesota in January of 2021 and was the Gophers’ back-up punter last season, but saw no action. Sparks entered the transfer portal after Minnesota’s spring game and on Tuesday, chose Virginia over Miami.