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UPDATED: September 10, 2020, 10:44 a.m.
Senior running back Devin Darrington, Harvard’s leading rusher from last season, announced his transfer to the University of Virginia.
Darrington, a Maryland native, will be playing his future college football games closer to home, the former Crimson running back announced on Twitter. He will graduate from Harvard in the spring and be eligible to play as a graduate transfer for Virginia immediately in the fall of 2021.
Following the Ivy League’s decision to cancel fall sports in July, Darrington announced his intention to transfer. At the time, schools in multiple Power 5 conferences had reached out, and Darrington will now find a home with the Cavaliers in the ACC.
The Crimson standout earned All-Ivy second team honors for last year’s performance. Darrington finished his junior year with 734 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground, both good for fifth in the Ancient Eight. Before this season’s cancellation, he was named to the All-Ivy preseason second team.
Darrington will look to bolster the rushing attack of the pass-first Cavaliers when he steps onto the field in Charlottesville in the fall of 2021. Virginia’s 2019 high-powered offensive attack was headed by recently departed star quarterback Bryce Perkins. The standout set the Cavaliers’ record for career total offense in just two seasons, and broke the school’s single-season passing record in 2019 with 3,538 yards through the air. Perkins’ most recent campaign, in which he accounted for 7,910 total yards and 33 total touchdowns, earned him All-ACC second team honors. His leadership will likely be missed, as Perkins was recently signed as a member of the Los Angeles Rams' practice squad.
The Virginia rushing attack, however, tells a different story. Despite ranking fourth in the ACC in 2019 in total yards, passing yards, and points per game, the Cavaliers’ run game finished second-to-last in rushing yards per game, trailed only by the hapless Miami Hurricane offense.
Even if Virginia replicates its strong passing attack without Perkins this fall, Darrington will look to aid a 2021 Virginia ground attack that saw its quarterback pace the team in rushing with 769 yards. Darrington joins junior Wayne Taulapapa in the backfield, who rushed for 473 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2019.
Virginia football finds itself in its best position in recent memory. From 2008 to 2017, the Cavaliers posted losing records in 9 of 10 seasons and lost its only two bowl appearances. Following a Belk Bowl victory in 2018, however, Virginia put together an impressive run in 2019. The Cavaliers finished the season with a 9-5 record and won its first-ever ACC Coastal division title en route to earning its first-ever New Year’s Six bowl game appearance.
While Harvard does not yet know when it will play its next college football game, the Crimson now officially knows that it will have to do so without Darrington in the backfield. The Harvard backfield will likely find itself anchored by both a new up-and-comer and a familiar face when play resumes.
Sophomore Aidan Borguet, the reigning Ivy League Rookie of the Year, rushed for 645 yards and seven touchdowns in his debut campaign, highlighted by a dazzling 269-yard, four-touchdown performance against rival Yale in the final game of the season.
While a new teammate to Borguet, the young running back will likely be joined by a household name to the Harvard faithful: Aaron Shampklin. The junior led the Crimson with 1,053 yards and nine touchdowns in 2018, earning the nod to the All-Ivy first team. He led the Ivy League on the ground as the only 1,000-yard rusher of 2018. Shampklin was named to the All-Ivy preseason first team prior to the 2019 season, however, the running back sat out the 2019 campaign. He was added to the 2020 Crimson roster before the 2020 fall season’s cancellation.
Shampklin and Darrington formed an explosive running duo in 2018, as Harvard was one of only three teams in the Ivy League to average over 200 rushing yards per game. With Darrington now suiting up in the ACC, Shampklin and Borguet will likely serve as the two-headed rushing attack for the Crimson whenever Ivy League football eventually returns.
—Staff writer Joseph W. Minatel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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