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Grades claim rookie safety for fall season

Virginia defensive back Chris Williams, a redshirt freshman who participated in more defensive plays than any other Cavalier last season, is academically ineligible and will not play football in the fall.

Williams, a second-year Engineering student, will not participate in spring practice and will miss the 2000 season as well, confirmed Michael Colley, assistant athletic media relations director, yesterday.

"He is academically ineligible and won't be able to play," Colley said.

Williams declined to comment.

Virginia Asst. Coach Art Markos, who coached the defensive backs last season, declined to comment.

Williams started all 11 regular-season games at safety for the Cavaliers and was named first-team All-Freshman by The Sporting News.

Williams sat out the Bowl Dec. 30 with a cast on his left forearm. Fellow redshirt freshman Shernard Newby, the most likely candidate to ascend to the now-vacant starting safety spot, made his second start of the year in Williams' place.

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  • Williams, a 6-foot-3, 212-pound Newport News native, was fourth on the Cavaliers with 69 tackles last season. He snagged two interceptions, one of which came against North Carolina Sept. 4 in his first college game.

    In a Feb. 4 press conference, Virginia Coach George Welsh said he would give his nine skill position recruits work at defensive back in spring practice. Welsh said he hoped to add another cornerback to the incoming recruiting class.

    With Williams out of the picture, the situation in the Cavalier defensive backfield is uncertain. Senior cornerbacks Dwayne Stukes and Antwan Harris have exhausted their eligibility and Welsh did not invite junior Jason Small back for his final year of eligibility. Newby, junior Tim Spruill, sophomore Jermaine Lauzon and freshman Jerton Evans stand as the only 1999 contributors returning for the fall season.