Virginia wide receivers coach Shawn Moore found himself in an interesting predicament last spring and summer. His son was being recruited by football programs from around the country, and given his experience in that realm, he wanted to do anything he could to guide his son through the process.
But Moore also works for one of the programs recruiting his son. In fact, Mike Moore attended a high school that was in Shawn’s recruiting area.
So this was Shawn’s solution: Never stop being a parent. He traveled with Mike on visits to three other campuses. There were times when he asked questions of his son and of his son’s recruiters, and there were times when he stayed out of the way. Shawn said Wednesday it wasn’t all that difficult or uncomfortable, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t excited when Mike eventually chose to become a Cavalier.
Mike Moore, a four-star defensive end out of DeMatha, was one of 25 recruits who signed their national letters-of-intent Wednesday to officially join Virginia’s 2012 recruiting class. Shawn – who was a star quarterback at Virginia from 1987 to ’90 and is entering his third year as a Cavaliers assistant – helped assemble that class.
But he played no role, at least from a professional standpoint, in convincing his son to choose Virginia. Cognizant of the conflict of interest it would create if Shawn was Virginia’s lead recruiter for Mike, Cavaliers Coach Mike London had special teams coordinator Anthony Poindexter – who also recruits the D.C. area – take charge of Virginia’s efforts to secure Mike’s commitment.
It was not, London said Wednesday, a recruitment that the Cavaliers took lightly simply because Mike’s father is on the staff.
“I don’t want to characterize it as that because it’s easy to assume, okay, his dad is here, and Shawn, your contract is tied to whether Mike comes or not,” London said jokingly.
More seriously, London continued: “You never want to assume anything like that. Michael is a player that deserved to be recruited on his own merits, not because of who his dad is. And hopefully he felt that through the recruiting process, and the added part is, ‘Man, my dad is coaching there.’ ”
Shawn said he went on visits with his son to Notre Dame, Tennessee and Florida and described the experience as “enlightening.” He also said there wasn’t any awkwardness on those visits between him and the assistants from the other schools, who essentially had to give their recruiting pitch straight to the competition.
One of the points of emphasis Shawn wanted to relay to his son was to keep an eye out for the programs that discussed more than just football. It was something Shawn remembered standing out to him when he was a recruit several decades ago and something that eventually helped him make his decision to attend Virginia.
Mike also went on several visits without Shawn. Mike traveled with his mother – who also went to Virginia – to visit the campuses of Penn State, Auburn, Louisiana State and Rutgers.
In regards to the programs that recruited Mike, Shawn said: “There was a huge emphasis on football at some of the SEC schools, but at places like Notre Dame and places like [Virginia] and Stanford and Duke, they’re special places because, first and foremost, academics is a priority. And second of all, you’re talking about a network of alums where, when football is over, that’s a tremendous alumni network that you can fall back on.”
But less than a week before Mike made his oral commitment to the Cavaliers, Shawn was convinced his son was headed to Florida. Father and son visited the Gainesville campus on the first weekend in June, and upon their departure, Shawn asked Mike, “What do you think?”
“This is where I see myself,” Shawn remembered Mike responding.
“I thought [Florida] was a huge obstacle,” Shawn said Wednesday. “But … ultimately, for him it was, ‘Hey, if I have a bad day at Florida or Notre Dame or some of these other places, how is it going to be for me? How is it going to be if I have a bad day at U-Va.?’ That was important to him, and I thought it was very mature of him to look at it that way.”
On June 10, he orally committed to Virginia, and on Wednesday he put his commitment in writing.
“At the end of the day, Mike’s a good kid,” Poindexter said. “I think his dad had a big influence on him coming here, not because of what [Shawn] told [Michael], but because of how much he respects his dad and how much he wanted to be around his dad and have his mother being able to come see him play.”
But Mike’s oral commitment did not put an end to the unique position in which Shawn found himself during his son’s recruitment. College coaches are not allowed to attend high school postseason all-star games. Parents, of course, are, which created a dilemma for Shawn when Mike was selected to play in the Semper Fidelis All American Bowl in Phoenix on Jan. 3.
But Shawn stuck to the code he’d maintained throughout the process – Never stop being a parent. – and, with the go-ahead from London and Virginia’s compliance department, flew out to Arizona to watch Mike play.
“That’s a tough situation to be in because you’ve got a lot of kids in the game, and it’s a dead period” for recruiting, Shawn said. “Coaches aren’t allowed to go, but I’m a parent. So I went to the game, supported [Mike] and had a great time.”
Shawn said he made sure not to speak to any player participating in that game other than Mike.
Now that his son’s commitment to Virginia is official, there remain just a few months before father and son are reunited in the same city. Shawn said Mike plans to move down to Charlottesville soon after classes are through at DeMatha.
When asked if he was excited about Mike’s impending arrival, Shawn, sarcastically, said, “Not so much if he’s going to be coming to steal groceries out of my house.”
Then he followed up with a more sincere thought: “I’m looking forward to having him here.”