Confused Virginia Player Kneels Down At His Own 3

In an effort to reduce kickoff returns, which have been found to be disproportionately responsible for major injuries, college football implemented a fair catch rule in 2018. Because of that, a player can call for a fair catch inside his own 25-yard line and the team will start at the 25 — essentially a touchback. That was the plan in the Virginia vs. Georgia Tech game on Thursday night.

Unfortunately, sometimes wires get crossed. Forever in the game of football, the way to get a touchback was to catch the kickoff in the endzone and then kneel down. Virginia kick returner Demick Starling caught a kickoff at his own three-yard line and proceeded to kneel. That is … not ideal.

You can see his teammate, Perris Jones, waving at him as if to say, “Fair catch, not kneel my dude.”

“What are you doing, bro?!” – Virginia’s Perris Jones, probably

But the damage had been done. The ball would be spotted at the three-yard line for UVA to start their next possession. Fortunately for the Cavaliers, this came just before halftime and they simply … well, knelt down again to send it to the half.

We don’t want to pile on the young man, but Starling is a junior. He should absolutely know the rules, especially since he’s back there returning kicks in the first place. But, this is a mistake you probably only make once.

Next time, expect to see Starling’s right hand high in the air, properly signaling a fair catch.

Written by Dan Zaksheske

Dan began his sports media career at ESPN, where he survived for nearly a decade. Once the Stockholm Syndrome cleared, he made his way to Outkick. He is secure enough in his masculinity to admit he is a cat-enthusiast with three cats, one of which is named “Brady” because his wife wishes she were married to Tom instead of him.

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