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Virginia football: Sophomore linebacker Landan Word to transfer

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Potential starter’s departure was unexpected.

NCAA Football: Virginia at Wake Forest Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Rising sophomore linebacker Landan Word will transfer from Virginia, according to a Monday night report from Doug Doughty of the Roanoke Times. Word played in 11 games and started twice as a freshman in 2016. He was the odds-on favorite to start at inside linebacker alongside All American Micah Kiser.

Word’s departure is puzzling given the promise he showed as a freshman. Adding to the puzzle is that he’s a Virginia legacy. His father is former Virginia tailback Barry Word, the 1985 ACC Player of the Year. The elder Word didn’t give many details as to his son’s decision. “The program just wasn’t a good fit for him,” he told Doughty.

With Word gone, Virginia head coach Bronco Mendenhall must look for another started to pair with Kiser. UVA is expected to return four inside linebackers in addition to Kiser: junior CJ Stalker, sophomores Jahvoni Simmons and Dominic Sheppard, and redshirt freshman Robert Snyder. The Cavaliers will also have Texas-native Matt Gahm, an inside linebacker in the 2017 recruiting class.

Virginia begins spring practice on March 28 and opens the 2017 season on September 2 against William and Mary.