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Welsh denies Braverman final year as placekicker

After two seasons as Virginia's starting placekicker, Todd Braverman will not be back for his final year of eligibility with the Cavaliers.

The decision came as a surprise to the redshirt junior, who said he assumed all was well after hearing nothing a few weeks ago when Cav Coach George Welsh was bidding goodbye to those players he had decided to let go.

At a Feb. 4 press conference, Welsh rattled off a list of players who had not been asked back - including redshirt junior quarterback David Rivers - but indicated Braverman most likely would return.

"Right now, Braverman is coming back," Welsh said at the press conference. "I don't know. I haven't made any final decisions yet."

Braverman, who is on schedule to graduate in May, said he had thrown himself headlong into the team's offseason strength and conditioning program when he got the news.

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  • Welsh "had made the decisions about the other guys a couple weeks earlier, and I was doing all the running and stuff with the team," Braverman said. "I was very surprised and so were a lot of other guys."

    He said Welsh gave him a few reasons why he decided not to keep him on for another year.

    With three other kickers and punters on the roster and incoming freshman Bryan Smith scheduled to arrive next season, Welsh could not justify using a scholarship on a fifth specialist, he added.

    Welsh also said he did not want to have Braverman around as competition for sophomore kicker David Greene in the fall, Braverman said.

    Greene, who handled kickoff duties for the Cavaliers for the past two years, stepped in when Braverman hurt his hamstring at the end of last season. With two years of eligibility remaining, he figures to be first in line to replace Braverman.

    In his Virginia career, Braverman experienced the ups and downs often associated with life as a kicker. He booted game-winners against Clemson in 1998 and North Carolina last season, but also came under fire from Cavalier fans for the kicks he missed.

    Four years after joining the team as an invited walk-on his freshman year, Braverman said he was thankful for the college football career he never thought he would get the chance to have.

    "I started here for two years and got to fulfill a lot of dreams, like being on SportsCenter," Braverman said. "It would've been nice to come back - I mean, who wouldn't want to play college football - but it was fun while it lasted"