Virginia linebacker Charles Snowden will miss the rest of the season with a broken right ankle. Snowden’s father shared the news on social media Saturday night, and UVa head coach Bronco Mendenhall shared Monday that Snowden underwent surgery on the injury, knocking him out for the year.
The recovery is expected to take about six months.
Snowden could return next season for a final year with the Wahoos due to NCAA eligibility relief, but he may instead decide to turn pro and prepare for an NFL career. He’ll make that decision in coming weeks and months.
“Charles’ influence on our program has been breathtaking in terms of maturity and growth, and in a lot of ways his own maturity and growth has matched that of the program,” Mendenhall said. “He came in as tall and thin and a basketball player, and he’s blossomed into a future NFL player with amazing leadership skills and a captain of our team in a four-year period.”
Snowden suffered the injury of the first quarter of Saturday’s victory over Abilene Christian. He missed the rest of the game, returning to the sideline for the second half wearing a cast and using crutches.
His loss removes an on-field leader and NFL-caliber linebacker. Prior to the Abilene Christian contest, Snowden recorded an impressive 21 tackles, nine tackles for loss and six sacks in Virginia’s previous three games.
“Charles, obviously, he’s our leader,” senior cornerback Nick Grant said. “He’s connected with everybody on the team. I’d venture to say anybody on the team would say Charles is their best friend or one of their very best friends.”
He played his best football of the season in recent weeks and gave Virginia’s defense a dynamic playmaker.
With Snowden out for the rest of the season, UVa’s defensive depth continues to be a pressing question and concern. Defensive lineman Richard Burney, a well-respected leader on defense, was ruled out for the year earlier this season due to health problems.
Jowon Briggs, a starting defensive tackle, entered the transfer portal last week, effectively ending his Virginia career. Nusi Malani, a freshman defensive lineman, left Saturday’s game earlier with an injury. Mendenhall didn’t provide an update Monday on Malani’s status for Saturday’s matchup with Florida State.
In the secondary, Joey Blount and Brenton Nelson sat out Saturday with injuries. D’Angelo Amos left the game early after being injured on a special teams play.
“It’s been just like any other season,” Grant said. “You’ve seen us down to our three-deep before at one point in the past three, four years. It’s just next-man-up mentality.”
Grant mentioned UVa also losing star cornerback Bryce Hall in devastating fashion last fall to a severe leg injury against Miami. The team captain missed the rest of the season.
“It was kind of heartbreaking that we’ve had two consecutive injuries of that nature to our captains in two consecutive years,” Grant said.
The team continues to lose standout defensive performers to injury, and Snowden is the latest to miss significant time. He’ll be out when the Wahoos face Florida State, Boston College and Virginia Tech to conclude the regular season.
Losing stars to injury is unfortunately something Virginia’s defense knows well.
They’ll adjust without Snowden, hoping to persevere toward the end of the season. Even as they move forward, there’s still sadness and pain that Snowden won’t retake the field this season.
“It’s hard to separate Charles Snowden and UVa football,” Mendenhall said. “They seem to be one and the same, and I’m not sure if there could be a better exemplar than him of what I would like our program to be.”