Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Coaching position change for UVa legend Shawn Moore
Shawn Moore is coaching wide receivers on Mike London's staff.
Sam Dean | The Roanoke Times
Former Virginia quarterback standout and now assistant coach Shawn Moore watches UVa's spring game.
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Aaron McFarling's blog
As Virginia continues to formulate a line of succession at quarterback, there's little question as to who has the strongest arm. At 41, new receivers coach Shawn Moore can still zing it.
If Brett Favre could pass for 4,200 yards last season and take the Minnesota Vikings to within a game of the Super Bowl, then Moore certainly is capable of working out the Cavalier wide receivers.
"We were in the same NFL Draft class," said Moore, the 10th-round pick of the Denver Broncos in 1991, when Favre was the second-round pick of the Atlanta Falcons, "but I'm older. He was a four-year player and I was a five-year player."
Moore spent four seasons as a back-up quarterback with the Broncos and Arizona Cardinals before wrapping up his career in the Canadian Football League in 1995. He claims to be 10-15 pounds under his NFL weight and physically looks as if he could still be playing today.
The UVa wideouts can attest to his arm strength.
"He'll blow my hands up every once in a while," Matt Snyder said. "You say he's 40. I thought he was more like 30. He's definitely still got it."
To that, Moore responded, "Don't believe the hype."
Moore has done some coaching since his retirement from professional football but never in a full-time capacity. He was the dean of students for grades 4-8 at St. Albans, a Washington, D.C., private school, before the Jan. 8 announcement that he was joining Mike London's first UVa staff.
"I knew what I was getting into," said Moore, who has been putting in 15-hour days during spring practice. "First of all, it's not that difficult a job. It's football. You're working with kids. It doesn't seem like work.
"It's supposed to be our livelihood. It's about winning football games but sometimes 'Dex' and I get caught up in the feeling that, 'Man, this is our school. This is where we played, bled and sweated.' "
"Dex" is safeties and special-teams coach Anthony Poindexter, an All-American defensive back during his playing days at UVa, 1995-1998. Poindexter was the ACC defensive player of the year in 1998 and Moore was the ACC player of the year in 1990, the final season in his celebrated UVa career.
Poindexter was the only assistant retained from the staff of London's predecessor, Al Groh.
"Everybody brings something different to the table," London said. "As far as the coaching and recruiting, we can help Shawn with that. We've surrounded him with good people. He's probably one of the most recognizable names and faces in Virginia football. I tell him the same thing I told Anthony when he came back: 'I'm not going to let you fail.' "
Now that spring practice has ended, Moore will be indoctrinated in recruiting.
"I think I've adjusted well to that component of the job," said Moore, a former all-state quarterback at Martinsville High School. "With the guys I'm recruiting and even the guys I'm not recruiting, I try to establish relationships because the one thing that I bring and Coach Poindexter brings is we've experienced this whole process.
"We've had success here. We know what it's like when things are good around Charlottesville."
Moore has been assigned Northern Virginia as one of his recruiting areas and will help Poindexter in suburban Maryland, including DeMatha Catholic High School in Hyattsville, Md.
Moore's son, Michael, is a 6-foot-3, 240-pound defensive end who will be a junior at DeMatha in the fall. Written offers may not be made to juniors until Sept. 1, but Michael Moore received a verbal offer during a trip to Charlottesville this spring.
"We're trying to split it up because they've got 10 or 12 recruitable kids," Coach Moore said. "A lot of them came in with my son, so I've got a past relationship with them. Plus, I can always ask [son] Mike, 'What do you think?' "
When Moore accepted London's offer, nothing was said about his area of coaching responsibility. Quarterback was a possibility, but most offensive coordinators also coach the quarterbacks and Moore didn't have the background to be a coordinator.
Shortly after Seattle Seahawks coach Bill Lazor was named offensive coordinator, Moore was assigned the wide receivers.
"I went into it blind, really," Moore said.
"Coach Lazor has been a tremendous asset for me. He coached receivers when he got into coaching. Coach [Chip] West has coached receivers, Coach [Mike] Farigalli, too, so I've leaned on a lot of those coaches."
Virginia's leading receiver in 2009, Kris Burd, had a modest 31 receptions.
However, the Cavaliers boast five returning wide receivers who have started at least one game in their college careers.
One of them is Snyder, a walk-on from Richmond whose family had UVa season tickets. Snyder was too young to see Moore play but has done his homework and knows that his coach was fourth in the 1990 Heisman Trophy balloting.
"I've gotten close to a lot of the guys," Moore said. "They still have a lot of work to do, but I feel it's improved more than any other position this spring. Especially with this new offense, they have a lot to learn."
The same goes for Lazor's offensive staff. Moore wasn't familiar with Lazor and didn't know anybody with strong Lazor ties, "but I just knew that Coach London would do his due diligence," he said.
"I think he absolutely made the correct choice. It's been a crash course for all of us, but it's very similar to what [ex-offensive coordinator] Gary Tranquill brought here in 1987."
Some of UVa's most prolific offenses were with Tranquill calling plays and Moore at quarterback. Moore still holds the UVa record for total offense in a career.
"There's a couple who know, the Marc Vericas of the world," said Moore, speaking of the Cavaliers' fifth-year quarterback.
"But some of the others catch me off guard sometimes when they say stuff like, 'Tell me about the Georgia Tech game.' "
That would be the 1990 UVa-Georgia Tech game, won by the Yellow Jackets 41-38, ending the Cavaliers' three-week run at No. 1. All the UVa players need to do is go into the hallway at the McCue Center and see photos of Moore at the height of his career.
UVa has retired numerous jerseys but Moore was the last player to have his number, 12, retired.
"I had a kid -- I'm not going to mention his name -- who asked if he could wear it," Moore said. "I told him, 'I'll think about it,' but I can't do that. Not yet."