About two weeks ago, several members of the Virginia coaching staff approached Miles Gooch and asked him to consider making a position switch to wide receiver. Gooch, who had served as a scout team quarterback last fall during his first collegiate season, took a few days to mull it over, but eventually he decided he’d be okay with the move.
Bright and early Wednesday morning – pre-practice drills were underway roughly 15 minutes before 6 a.m. – Gooch, a rising redshirt freshman, got his first live taste of his new position. With Kris Burd (foot) out, Tim Smith (ankle) limited and Dontrelle Inman (graduation) gone, the Cavaliers entered the spring a bit light at the receiver position, and coaches thought Gooch’s size (6-foot-3, 215 lbs.) and athleticism would fit in well and fill a need at wideout.
“I feel like I have to get in the swing of things,” Gooch said after the two-hour workout session. “I feel like eventually I will get up to the point where I’ll be really good at it.”
Gooch said he doesn’t miss taking snaps yet, but he noted his time as a quarterback has helped ease the transition to wide receiver. The most difficult part of the adjustment so far, he said, has been knowing where to line up, getting the proper depth on his routes and learning the blocking assignments.
“Some routes we have to go up to 20 yards, 15 and break ‘em,” Gooch said. “I’m still kind of confused on that. But from a quarterback standpoint, I do know where each person is supposed to be and who’s running which route.”
Here are some other news and notes from the first day of Virginia’s spring practice:
Coach Mike London said rising redshirt sophomore Jeremiah Mathis (DeMatha) will remain at tight end, where he played the latter part of last season after senior Joe Torchia injured his shoulder. Mathis had started the 2010 season as a defensive end, and there was talk that he might move back to the defensive side of the ball heading into the 2011 campaign. But Mathis took snaps entirely at tight end Wednesday, and it appears that’s the way it’s going to stay …
After struggling to gain weight, rising junior LoVante Battle is taking a trial run at safety this spring. Battle moved to outside linebacker prior to the start of the 2010 season after spending his first year at Virginia as a safety.
“We’ll keep him there for a while and then make a decision as we start moving forward,” London said. “So far he’s done a nice job. Today’s the first day of practice, so a lot more to prove, a lot more to do, but we’ll see what the learning curve is for him.” …
Graduate assistant Marques Hagans will coach the aspects of the passing game to the tight ends and assist Shawn Moore with the wide receivers, London said. Gordie Sammis, another graduate assistant, will coach the aspects of the running game to the tight ends …
Rising senior cornerback Chase Minnifield suffered a minor toe injury Wednesday and did not participate in much of the practice session. Rising redshirt freshman cornerback Drequan Hoskey sprained his right ankle while defending a pass during the middle of practice. He did not return. London said neither player’s injury is expected to be serious …
Quarterback David Watford and outside linebacker Daquan Romero, both of whom enrolled at Virginia in January after finishing their high school careers, took part in their first collegiate practices Wednesday.
“David’s got to call the cadence so everybody hears it,” London said. “We want him to be so loud that over on the other fields they can hear him, so he’s got to work on that a little bit, the command of the huddle. Getting his ball down a little bit. But for the first time taking a snap in college, I think he did okay.
“Romero, he’s going to be a good player. He’s got to figure out some things. But you know, the learning curve for them is high, also. But the good thing is they’ve been in school, they’ve heard the jargon, they’ve been around our players, so they’re going to be much more advanced as practice moves on.”