By Bob Hertzel
Times West Virginian
A tweet on Barry Brunetti’s Twitter account said the West Virginia University backup quarterback plans to leave the school after the Champs Sports Bowl to be closer to home.
The tweet read:
“Can’t wait to get home to see my people. Been a while. Due to a list of things and personal reasons. Will not be returning to WVU next year.”
The sender, who could not positively be identified as Brunetti, followed that up with this:
“Still focusing on helping WVU win the Champs Sports Bowl. After that continue my new journey.”
All of this, however, is news to the WVU football office.
“I talked with the people in the football office and they say he has not approached them for a release,” said Mike Montoro of the WVU sports information office.
Coach Bill Stewart, who is traveling, did not return a call but apparently was unaware that Brunetti is thinking of leaving after the bowl game.
Whether Stewart will allow Brunetti to remain with the team as a lame-duck backup quarterback remains to be seen.
According to the Twitter account, Brunetti’s mother is suffering from a neck problem and he wants to be closer to home. If that is so, it would be expected that Brunetti would ask for a hardship waiver of the one-year waiting period if he transfers.
The most likely places for Brunetti to end up, if he goes, and WVU has not yet had a chance to try to talk him out of transferring, are Mississippi and Memphis State.
Brunetti is the only backup starting quarterback Geno Smith has, and has had limited action.
He appeared in four games and threw just nine passes, completing four for six yards.
If Brunetti is not allowed to play, look for Stewart to return Coley White from wide receiver to backup quarterback for the bowl game and also give wide receiver Brad Starks some reps at quarterback.
WVU started the year with two highly acclaimed quarterback recruits in Jeremy Johnson and Brunetti. When it became obvious to Johnson that Brunetti had beaten him out, he left school.
Brunetti came to WVU with high hopes of playing, but the way Smith performed during the year, throwing for 2,567 yards and 23 touchdowns against six interceptions while completing 65.8 percent of his passes, he realized that he would probably be stuck behind him until his senior season.
A day earlier it came out that WVU offensive coordinator Jeff Mullen was being considered for the Kent State head coaching job.
E-mail Bob Hertzel at email@example.com.