Virginia Tech star cornerback Caleb Farley announced Wednesday he will not play for the Hokies if there is a season, becoming the most notable major-college football player to opt out because of concerns about the coronavirus.
The redshirt junior from Hickory, North Carolina, revealed his decision in a video posted to social media. The 6-foot-2, 207-pound Farley is considered one of the nation’s top defensive backs. He said he’s forgoing the season “due to uncertain health conditions and regulations and all the other opt-outs going on in football right now.”
There has yet to be a stream of public opt-outs among college players, but more than two dozen NFL players have said in recent days they will not play this season as teams report to training camps.
Farley, whose mother died in January 2018, said he “cannot afford to lose another parent or loved one.” and despite his competitive desire to play, ”I cannot ignore what’s going on in my heart and I must make the decision that brings me the most peace.”
Hokies coach Justin Fuente was not immediately available to comment on the decision.
Last week, Illinois announced senior running back Ra’Von Bonner planned to sit out the season for personal reasons. Bonner told the Chicago Tribune that seeing teammates test positive for the virus during team workouts this summer made him rethink the situation.
“I feel we’re more at risk with the amount of guys we have,” Bonner told the Tribune. “In football you have to touch someone else. You can spread that to family members. That’s not what I want. I don’t want to not see my family, my sister, my girlfriend.”
Conferences are in the process of redoing schedules to try to mitigate potential disruptions caused by COVID-19. The Atlantic Coast Conference, where Virginia Tech plays, announced within an hour of Farley posting his video that it was going to a 10-game conference schedule and eliminating all but one nonconference game. It was also delaying the start of the season a week and pushing the league championship game back at least one week if not two.
Most Power Five conference schools have said that players would not have their scholarships taken away if they chose not to play this season.
For Farley, though, this was likely his last year. He said he would begin preparing for the NFL draft.
“So, thank you Virginia Tech. My coaches, teammates and anyone else who has supported me in the past,” Farley said. “I wish you all the best. Stay safe and God bless.”