When the football team leaves campus Thursday evening for its season opener at Georgetown, quarterback John Whitelaw ’14 will not be on board.

Whitelaw announced his departure from the football team in an email to his teammates Tuesday, the News has learned. His decision comes in the wake of head coach Tony Reno’s announcement that Eric Williams ’16 would start at quarterback against Georgetown on Saturday. After spring practice last year, Whitelaw had widely been expected to be named starter in the fall.

The loss of the veteran Whitelaw is the latest in a string of offseason obstacles for the Bulldogs. Following controversies over the resignation of former head coach Tom Williams and the Rhodes Scholarship candidacy of Patrick Witt ’12, the team experienced another setback in August when linebacker Will McHale ’13 had his captaincy suspended following a fight at Toad’s Place in May.

Prior to his leaving the team, Whitelaw was featured in head coach Tony Reno’s game plan for Saturday and both Whitelaw and Williams were listed as possible starters on the media depth chart.

“Eric will start, I made a decision over the weekend,” Reno said at a lunch with members of the media yesterday, prior to Whitelaw’s announcement. “[But] John [Whitelaw] will play.”

Reno said that Whitelaw left the team “to pursue other interests.” He added, however, that Whitelaw’s departure would not affect his young quarterback.

“I don’t think there’s any more pressure at all [on Williams],” Reno said. “He’s got 10 guys [with him].”

Although he has never taken a collegiate snap, Williams has already gained the confidence of his teammates.

“I’ve just been really impressed by Eric’s raw talent,” running back Mordecai Cargill ’13 said. “He is a freshman so he makes mistakes here and there, like dropping the ball sometimes or causing us to do extra running at the end of practice. But there are also times he makes throws that wow you.”

Williams is also no stranger to Yale — his brothers Sean Williams ’11 and Scott Williams ’13 have both played for the Blue and White.

Derek Russell ’13 and Logan Scott ’16 will be the new primary back-ups, Reno said.

Russell is listed as a wide receiver on the roster and has spent the past three years on the junior varsity team. He threw for 2,100 yards and 21 touchdowns as quarterback for Newton South High School in 2008. He also ran for 500 yards and eight more scores.

Scott was a three-sport athlete for Chaminade College Preparatory School in California and was recruited to play a sport at Boise State, Nevada and San Diego State, among other schools.

Whitelaw was unavailable for comment, and several of his former teammates declined to comment, with one of them doing so because Whitelaw’s departure was “a sore subject.”

Whitelaw saw action in five games last year, completing one of four passes for eight yards and running for fourteen yards on five carries. He spent his freshman campaign on the JV squad, but he received the spring practice quarterback award in 2012.