CHARLOTTESVILLE— Talented sophomore nose tackle Jowon Briggs has reached the coda of his Virginia football career, but not his swan song in the sport.
The former four-star prospect, who also made a name for himself at UVA off the field with his singing ability, has entered his name into the NCAA’s transfer portal, a source said Tuesday.
The Cavaliers (3-4, 3-4 ACC) won’t have Briggs when they host Abilene Christian on Saturday. He is no longer a member of the program, a source confirmed.
The 6-foot-1, 310-pound Ohio native has 20 tackles and three sacks this season. He’s started every game this season after starting seven as a true freshman in 2019.
A former four-star recruit, the highest-rated prospect signed by coach Bronco Mendenhall in his five-year tenure at UVA, Briggs was recruited by former Virginia defensive line coach Vic So’oto. So’oto left the Cavaliers for Southern California after last season.
In 2019, Briggs became only the fifth UVA freshman defensive lineman, true or redshirt, to start a season opener since 1986. He ended the year as a freshman All-American.
Briggs is the second defensive line starter the Cavaliers have lost this season. Senior defensive end Richard Burney is dealing with a season-ending “health injury,” Mendenhall announced earlier this month.
Briggs’ backup at nose tackle is freshman Jahmeer Carter, though UVA could slide one of its starting ends — JMU transfer Adeeb Atariwa or Mandy Alonso — to the spot.
Atariwa moved into the starting lineup after Burney became unavailable.
The 6-foot-3, 280-pound Atariwa, who started 23 games at JMU, has made six tackles and had his first sack for the Cavaliers in the past three games.
“I came here knowing what I could do, knowing what I could provide,” Atariwa said. “Thankfully, to this point it’s become a role where I am starting. I plan on continuing to do that.”
Freshman defensive end Nusi Mulani has been emerging as an option at defensive end.
“We really like Nusi, as he’s playing as a true first year,” Mendenhall said. “We are thin at the defensive line, but that doesn’t mean that he’s not contributing at a level that has earned him a chance to play, because he has.”
Mendenhall said the 6-foot-6, 250-pound Mulani has the build UVA is seeking at the position.
Freshman Olasunkonmi Agunloye and redshirt freshman Ben Smiley also fit the mold.
“We are looking to increase our length, both at the nose tackle and the defensive end spot,” Mendenhall said. “We would like longer defensive linemen with more height, with more range and more developmental capabilities, meaning we can add not only athleticism and span, but we can add basically size to that over time.”
After opening the season 1-4, Virginia has won back-to-back games over North Carolina and Louisville heading into Saturday’s game against Abilene Christian (1-4), a struggling FCS team.