Virginia dismisses three potential starters on defense
Virginia Coach Al Groh dismissed linebacker Ahmad Brooks, defensive end Vince Redd and cornerback Tony Franklin from the team on Tuesday.
"It's best for us and the players to move on from these circumstances," Groh said at a news conference in Charlottesville, one day before the Cavaliers begin spring practice.
All three players were potential starters on defense, but Groh said the losses will not affect Virginia's outlook this season.
Franklin, a senior who was expected to start at safety, was arrested for marijuana possession on Dec. 4. Franklin and Redd, a junior and possible starter at defensive end, were among the Cavaliers suspended for violating team rules last season.
"It really doesn't change our prospectus when you consider two of the three players weren't even a part of what the team was able to do in Nashville [at the Music City Bowl]," Groh said. "It's essential internally that we have the discipline to do things the right way and not just chase talent for talent's sake. That's what we're doing."
Brooks, a senior, led Virginia in tackles as a freshman and sophomore but played in only six games during an injury-riddled 2005. As a sophomore, Brooks was All-ACC and a Butkus Award finalist. But he ballooned to 270 pounds as he struggled to recover from knee and ankle injuries last year.
In January, Brooks announced he would not enter the NFL draft. Now, transfering to a lower-division school or entering the NFL's supplemental draft are options. Brooks, once viewed as a first-round prospect, chose to return in large part, however, because his stock had slipped.
"It is a privelege and not a right to wear a Cavaliers jersey and to represent our university and community," Groh said. "There are certain things that are vital and those things come into sharper focus and are multiplied when you're rebuilding, as we are. That's focus, commitment and dependability."
Joe Schad is ESPN TV's national college football reporter.