You’ll still find Jake Sturgill playing college football in Southwest Virginia in 2018, but he’ll be calling the signals for a different team.
The former Abingdon High School quarterback confirmed on Wednesday that he has transferred from the University of Virginia’s College at Wise to Emory & Henry College.
Sturgill begins classes at E&H on Jan. 9 and has three years of eligibility remaining for the Wasps of the NCAA Division III Old Dominion Athletic Conference.
After he wrapped up a record-setting career at Abingdon, Sturgill’s final college choice was narrowed between UVa-Wise, Emory & Henry or just attending a larger school as a student.
He picked UVa-Wise, but had some second thoughts about the decision a little more than a month into the season.
“Just thinking about [Abingdon] being 15 minutes from Emory and talking to [former teammates] Derrick Yates, Max Yates, Hunter Norris [now at Emory & Henry] and those guys, I felt like that [E&H] might have been the place to be,” Sturgill said. “My heart wasn’t all the way in at Wise and wasn’t what I was looking for. I told my family I didn’t want to make a decision until after the season and that’s what I did.”
Sturgill appeared in four games for UVa-Wise and the 6-foot-2, 196-pound freshman was 20-of-43 for 167 yards with two touchdowns and one interception for the NCAA Division II Highland Cavaliers.
Both his TD tosses came in a 63-35 loss to Mountain East Conference powerhouse Shepherd in the final game of the season. One of those came on an acrobatic catch by Kaian Duverger that was shown multiple times on ESPN.
He also made the Dean’s List during the fall semester.
Yet, redshirt sophomore Brycen Lee, an Eastern Kentucky University transfer, and dual-threat freshman Jarome Johnson from Washington, D.C., got most of the snaps at QB for the Cavs.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity I got at Wise,” Sturgill said. “Coach [Dane] Damron was the first guy to give me a scholarship [offer] and that boosted my confidence. We had a couple of good conversations after I made the decision.
“It was definitely a learning experience. There’s a lot of great talent in that league. It’s probably one of the best conferences in Division II football. I got a lot of learning experiences and had great teammates. That’s one thing I am going to miss, the bonds I formed with those guys. They have a great team there at Wise.”
Sturgill figures to be in the mix for the QB job at E&H since Kevin Saxton, the school’s career passing leader, graduated.
Dominic Dunnaville and Hunter Taylor were underclassmen who saw time under center.
“I’m just ready to keep my nose to the ground and get to work and see what happens,” Sturgill said.
He’ll be reunited with wide receiver Derrick Yates, his former AHS teammate, who led the Wasps with 60 catches for 903 yards and six touchdowns this past season as Emory & Henry finished 3-7.
E&H had five ex-Abingdon standouts on its 2017 roster.
“It’ll be good to play with Derrick and those guys again,” Sturgill said.
Sturgill will be one of the few players to have suited up for both UVa-Wise and Emory & Henry.
His high school coach, Darren Reed, started his collegiate career at UVa-Wise (when it was known as Clinch Valley College) and later became an All-American linebacker at Emory & Henry after transferring.
Former Richlands High School standout Shane Wicks was the most recent guy to play for both the Wasps and the Cavs.