Before he exited the George Welsh Indoor Practice Facility on Monday, Morgan Moses made a quick pit stop around the 10-yard line.
He dapped up Oday Aboushi, Paul Freedman and others as they were stretching for a brief workout before the following day’s big audition.
But, of course, Moses wouldn’t be joining them for Tuesday’s Virginia Pro Day. He would attend, show support and maybe do some self-timing on his phone, but his tryout for NFL scouts had been postponed a year.
The bearded 6-foot-6, 325-pound offensive tackle made the decision to return for his senior season at UVa in early January.
“It feels good to be back,” Moses said after the Cavaliers’ first spring practice.
But why exactly is he back?
Moses said he filed paperwork to the NFL Draft advisory board to seek input on where he could be selected in April. Scott Wachenheim, Moses’ position coach, told VirginiaSports.com he felt the Wahoos had a less than 50/50 chance of keeping the reigning All-ACC honorable mention selection.
But Moses’ teammates? Well, they went hard with their re-recruitment.
Receiver Tim Smith and running back Kevin Parks pleaded. Quarterback David Watford offered to cook. Center Luke Bowanko even sent a (light-hearted) physical threat.
“I was going to beat him up if he went,” Bowanko said.
But ultimately it came down to Moses, himself.
Monday, after spending two hours in a sparkling new building and taking instruction from a few fresh faces (associate head coach Tom O’Brien, special teams coach Larry Lewis, among others), he knew his choice was the correct one.
“I’m blessed to have this opportunity to play here for my senior year in all these new facilities,” Moses said. “Walking in here, it’s different. But definitely with the new coaching staff here, it’s a high energy, up-tempo practice. You got a lot of guys flying around. You got the coaches getting after guys and you got the players getting after guys.
“That’s a good change around here.”
And one he’s a part of.
After spending his first three years at right tackle, Moses will flip to the left side in 2013, taking over the spot left vacant by the man who played another large factor in his return to Charlottesville.
“Morgan’s one of my best friends here and we talked a lot about it,” said Aboushi, who projects as a top three-round pick. “At the end of the day, we realized football is fun and that’s what we really strive for every day.
“But its going to end one day, and to have a degree in your pocket from a university like this, not many people could have the opportunity to do it. So I told him, ‘Seize the opportunity. If you continue to grow as a player as well as in the weight room and you get your degree, it’s a win-win situation next year for you.’”
With Moses now aboard, the Cavs will have a wealth of experience back on its line.
Bowanko, a senior, started all 12 games at center in 2012. Senior Sean Cascarano, who started all 12 at right guard, has moved to right tackle. Junior guard Conner Davis started 11 games last season. Junior guard Cody Wallace and sophomore guard Ross Burbank have a combined 24 games of experience.
And then there’s Moses, who has rarely seen the sideline since he arrived from Fork Union in 2010, starting 31 of a possible 37 games.
“It’s great,” said Watford. “I actually live with him so I see him every day, I get to spend a lot of time with him. That’s like one of my brothers right there. It’s just great to be able to have him protecting my blindside.”
And opening holes for Parks, who ran for a team-best 734 yards last season.
“I kind of talked to him and told him, ‘Come on, bro. You got to stay for me,’” Parks said of his persuading of Moses. “He was in and out, but, finally, he made the right decision for himself.
“I believe he’s going to have a great year this year.”
Open practices announced
Two Virginia spring practices will be open to the public, announced head coach Mike London on Thursday.
Those open sessions are scheduled for this Saturday and next (March 30). Both will begin at 12:15 p.m., and will be held at Scott Stadium.
Fans attending the open practices can park for free in the West Lot of Scott Stadium and enter through the West Gate. Gates will open at 11:45 a.m. for both practices.
Fans will also have an opportunity to view and walk through the football practice fields, including the new George Welsh Indoor Practice Facility, on March 30 from 2-5 p.m.
UVa will play its annual Orange-Blue spring football scrimmage at Scott Stadium on April 6. Gates will open at 11 a.m. with on-field activities available for fans starting at 11:30 a.m. The scrimmage will begin at 1 p.m.