UVA QB Jay Woolfolk leaves football program to focus on baseball

By Jerry Ratcliffe

Photo: UVA Athletics

Jay Woolfolk has left Virginia’s football team and will focus only on his pitching career with the Cavaliers’ baseball program. Woolfolk announced his decision on Twitter Thursday morning.

A quarterback on UVA’s football squad since 2021, Woolfolk has seen little action on the gridiron, but had a strong role for Brian O’Connor’s baseball team the past two years. The Richmond native was expected to compete for the Cavaliers’ starting quarterback job this fall, but with his announcement, those responsibilities will be in the hands of Monmouth transfer Tony Muskett.

“It’s been a pleasure and an honor to work with Jay over the last year and a half from a football perspective,” said football coach Tony Elliott. “He’s an extremely talented young man with a skill set in both sports. At this point in his career, he believes he needs to make a long-term and unfortunately for us, it’s not going to involve football. I fully support and respect his decision. He desires to go chase that dream and play Major League Baseball and I don’t fault him for that.

“I know his teammates are going to be excited, but also disappointed a little bit because we were looking forward to what he was going to bring to Virginia football. In the end, when a young man has been thoughtful about the process, when he’s done everything the right way, you can do nothing but support him.

“Jay will always be a member of Virginia football. We’ll be his biggest fans come next baseball season. I’m sure he’ll be rooting hard for us as we go through fall camp and we prepare for the season. I love Jay Woolfolk and I wish him all the best. I can’t wait to see him finish out strong with Coach (Brian) O’Connor and the baseball team.”

Woolfolk filled in admirably for Brennan Armstrong in 2021 against nationally ranked Notre Dame. (Photo: UVA Athletics)

Woolfolk’s football career with the Cavaliers was somewhat limited, appearing in nine games over the past two years, most of those being cameo appearances. His most noted game came in 2021 when he started against No. 7 Notre Dame, becoming the first UVA true freshman to start at QB since 1977. He posted 245 yards passing and 104 yards rushing in his short career.

Elliott once commented after a 2021 spring scrimmage that Woolfolk had been “electric” when running the ball in that intrasquad skirmish.

The youngster has been much more effective with UVA baseball, working primarily the past two seasons as a relief pitcher. Over 59 games as a Cavalier, Woolfolk owns a 2.89 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 71.2 innings pitched, including nine saves this past season for a team that made it to the College World Series. Those nine saves were the fourth-most in the ACC.

He is currently playing on the USA Baseball Collegiate National team.

Woolfolk is the only Cavalier to have played quarterback and play baseball for UVA since Mike Cubbage in the early 1970s.

“Coach Elliott has done so much for me starting with his first day on Grounds,” Woolfolk said of his football experience. “His ways of teaching how, not only to be a player, but how to be a man, will always stick with me. It’s been an amazing year with him. I’ve reached a point where at this time it’s best for me to focus on my future in the sport of baseball.

“I wish the very best to the football program and my teammates. You could not ask to be part of a better group of individuals. I’ll always be their biggest supporter.”