Former Matoaca quarterback and James Madison University standout Michael Birdsong announced Saturday via twitter that he was transferring to Marshall University to continue his college football career.
“Marshall’s program has great tradition and history,” said Birdsong, a rising junior. “The way they play for the community around Huntington, West Virginia is second to none,” he continued. “I felt right at home as soon as I got there.”
The two weeks it took to get to the decision have been busy for Birdsong. On April 14, he informed new James Madison head coach Everett Withers that he would be transferring.
With the new head coach came a new offense, and also a new quarterback in Vad Lee, a transfer from Georgia Tech. While Birdsong wasn’t told anything in regards to his status as the team’s starting quarterback, the offensive changes served as writing on the wall.
Initially, Birdsong said that Withers stated that he could not transfer to any CAA schools, which is common practice when a player transfers. Later in the day Withers added other non-CAA schools to the transfer list. Birdsong appealed to the school, and won back the right to transfer to Old Dominion, Liberty and Appalachian State on April 22.
The 6-4 230 pound “Ginger Giant,” as lovingly called by fans at James Madison for his size and red hair, appeared in 20 games for the Dukes, starting 14 of them. The quarterback completed 59.2 percent of his passes and threw for 3,206 yards, 26 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. Birdsong also rushed for 489 yards and another four touchdowns. Last season, JMU was 6-6 in Birdsong’s first full season as a starter. He set a single season record for passing yards for the Dukes.
“JMU was awesome,” said Birdsong. “This place has been great to me and I’m going to miss it, but going to Marshall is the right move.”
Under NCAA rules, Birdsong will have to sit out the 2014-2015 season, but will have two years of eligibility left. This is an ideal situation as Birdsong will have to learn a new system at a higher level of competition. Current Marshall quarterback Rakeem Cato is a senior next season.
“Marshall has a great history of sending quarterbacks to the pros,” explained Birdsong. “At their spring game Chad Pennington and Bryon Leftwich showed up- that’s 19 years of NFL experience right there.”
Birdsong understands the task in front of him, and knows the steps that must be taken.
“First’s thing’s first,” stated Birdsong. “I have to win that starting job.”
To keep track of Birdsong and all other local college athletes, look for our segment called “The Next Level” or follow us on twitter @VNewsSports.