College FB Focus
Undated (AP) _ When President Bush was at the University of Virginia last year for an education summit, he admitted that he wasn’t the most celebrated person at the school.
″You have the president, the governors and the cabinet all here,″ he said, ″and still the big man on campus is Shawn Moore.″
Moore, Virginia’s versatile quarterback, is even bigger now then he was then - in reputation as well as size.
After adding 12 pounds to his 6-foot-2 frame in the offseason, Moore has led the Cavaliers to a 4-0 record, their first victory ever against Clemson and their highest ranking ever (No. 7) in The Associated Press poll.
But team accomplishments aren’t the only way to measure Moore’s success.
He is second in the country in passing efficiency - ahead of Heisman front- runner Ty Detmer of Brigham Young - and holds the Atlantic Coast Conference record for most passing and running touchdowns (69) in a career. Against Navy two weeks ago, Moore passed for four touchdowns and ran for two more even though he sat out most of the second half.
″He’s a unique player,″ says Virginia center Trevor Ryals, who shares an off-campus duplex with Moore and receiver Derek Dooley. ″There’s a lot of quarterbacks who can pass the ball and a lot who can run the ball, but very few can do both as well as Shawn.″
Last season, when he guided the Cavaliers to a school-record 10 victories and a share of their first ACC title, Moore was the only player in the country who topped 2,000 yards in passing and 500 in rushing.
And he’s on track to do it again this season, with 830 yards passing and 138 rushing after four games. Moore, who is completing 56 percent of his passes, has thrown for 11 touchdowns and run for four.
″We’ve got an offense that allows me to do a lot of things,″ Moore says. ″We’re not one of those teams that runs all the time or passes all the time. We try to mix things up and keep you off balance.″
Considering how often he handles the ball, Moore has an amazingly low turnover ratio. He’s thrown only one interception this season and hasn’t fumbled in his last 17 games.
Moore isn’t easily ruffled, on or off the field.
″He never gets angry,″ Ryals says. ″He’ll even joke around during a fight.″
Dooley, son of former Georgia coach Vince Dooley, calls Moore a ″silent competitor.″
″He comes out of the huddle with that big, goofy smile,″ Dooley says. ″He’s always relaxed on the field, and you feel very comfortable with him out there.″
Actually, there is one thing that really gets under Moore’s skin - sloppiness. He’s a neat freak who always makes his bed, vacuums the floor and straightens the papers on his desk - a stark contrast to Ryals, who used to keep a collection of rats and snakes in his room. They’re Virginia’s version of the Odd Couple.
″My room looks like a nuclear disaster area and Shawn’s room looks like an executive’s office,″ Ryals says. ″I’ve never seen him leave anything on the floor.″
It’s that kind of discipline and organization that enabled Moore to graduate on time from one of the nation’s best universities. He got his degree in psychology during the summer and is now a graduate student in education.
″I wasn’t a great student in high school, but when I came here I realized my attitude had to change,″ says Moore, who is permitted to play a fifth year because he redshirted in 1986.
″I was intimidated by the school when I first got here. But the harder I worked in class, the more confident I got. Schoolwork is just like football - hard work pays off.″
As a football player, Moore’s biggest payoff would be winning the national championship and the Heisman Trophy. Although both goals are a longshot, they’re not as farfetched as they sound.
Virginia’s toughest remaining foes are North Carolina State, Georgia Tech, Maryland and Virginia Tech, and the Cavaliers should be favored against all of them. But Moore isn’t taking anybody lightly.
″I know there’s been a lot of talk about us going undefeated, but I think our toughest games are down the road,″ he says. ″Everybody is going to try to knock us off.″
As for the Heisman, Moore is taking a low-key approach. While Virginia sends out weekly updates on its star quarterback and Ryals’ answering machine greets callers with ″Home of the Heisman,″ Moore prefers to talk about his teammates.
The only Virginia player to finish in the Top 10 of the Heisman voting was Bill Dudley, who was fifth in 1941. If the vote were held today, Moore would almost certainly finish higher.
″When I came here, all I wanted to do was prove I could play quarterback at this level,″ he says. ″I never expected the kind of attention I’m getting now. Sure, it’s nice to be mentioned as a Heisman candidate. But if you think about it too much, it’s going to affect your performance.″