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Feb. 16, 2010
10:48 a.m.

CHARLOTTESVILLE — Jack Shields, who started 23 games at center for UVa’s football team in 2008 and ’09, has decided not to use his final season of eligibility.

Shields said he weighed his decision for weeks before meeting recently with the Cavaliers’ new coach, Mike London.

“I told him I can’t fake it,” Shields said. “I think I’m just burned out on football. I had a great time here, and I don’t regret anything. I loved it.”

UVa will miss Shields’ experience, London said, “but we’ll manage and move forward with other players who look forward to the opportunity to challenge for that spot.”

Anthony Mihota, who’ll be a redshirt junior this season, backed up Shields in 2008 and ’09. With Shields out with a leg injury, Mihota started against Virginia Tech in 2008.

Shields, who redshirted in 2006, is on track to earn a bachelor’s degree in history this spring. He hopes to attend graduate school, perhaps at UVa, in 2010-11.

Another factor in Shields’ decision was the back pain with which he played throughout his college career.

“I didn’t know if I’d be able to go full go,” he said.

Shields, who turned 23 in December, would have been the oldest player in the UVa program this season. A team’s veterans should be fully committed and ready to lead, Shields said, and he wasn’t sure he could fullfill those responsibilities.

In addition to Mihota, UVa’s centers this season figure to include rising sophomore Mike Price and incoming freshman Cody Wallace, who played for Fork Union Military Academy’s postgraduate team in 2009.

Shields’ departure leaves new offensive-line coach Ron Mattes with three returning starters: Landon Bradley at left tackle, Austin Pasztor at left guard and B.J. Cabbell at right guard.

Jeff White

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