by Jeff Barlis
UPDATE, June 10: Michael Moore committed to Virginia on Friday.
Michael Moore knows what people say about the chances he ends up playing football at Virginia.
After all, both of his parents attended UVa. His father, Shawn, was the Cavaliers’ star quarterback from 1988-90 and is now a Cavs assistant coach.
“He’s a wide receivers coach,” Michael Moore said, “so if I did go there I wouldn’t really see him that much because he’s on the offensive side of the ball. But with him being there I’ve known Virginia so long as a child and I’ve been there a lot of times. So I have a good relationship with them, too. But I’m still looking at other schools, too.”
Michael Moore’s flirtation with other schools led him to visit Florida for a second time, a trip he wrapped up on Saturday with a second tour of campus and a sit-down with his father and UF head coach Will Muschamp.
“The visit went real well,” Michael said just before leaving Gainesville. “I had a real good time. I got to spend about 15 minutes just talking to (Muschamp), seeing how I fit into the defense, how I can fit in to their style of play, and seeing how I can be part of the Florida Gators.”
Saturday was a busy day for Muschamp, who led his coaching staff in working with about 500 participants at Florida’s annual women’s clinic at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.
The Gators are a serious option for Moore, a 6-foot-4, 255-pound athlete from DeMatha Catholic High School in Hyattsville, Md., who has the frame to play defensive end in a 4-3 or 3-4 alignment. Moore is rated a four-star prospect by Rivals and 247Sports. Getting his verbal at a position of need would be big for the Gators. But for Virginia, Moore is not just a legacy, he is a major recruiting priority.
“I’m still trying to figure out what I’m going to do right now,” Michael said. “I’m going to wait, but I know I’m going to get it done before the season. I want to get my top teams together soon, but I know Florida and Virginia will definitely be in it.”
Despite about 30 scholarship offers, Moore seems to have locked in on the two schools.
“I really like (Virginia head coach Mike) London, he’s a real guy,” he said. “He’s in touch with his spirituality. I talk to him very easily.
“With Florida there is great tradition in the SEC. You know you’re going to play a great team every week. The SEC also helps players get to the NFL, which is a big thing. And also with Florida and Virginia, they both have great academics there.”
Make no mistake, the UF coaching staff has worked hard to be a factor in Moore’s decision. Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and defensive line coach Bryant Young have led the way in Moore’s recruitment.
“They came to my school. I’ve seen them throughout the spring,” he said. “I’ve been (to UF) during my spring break. So I have seen the campus and I have seen them all before. So this is probably about the third or fourth time I’ve seen them.
“They see me as someone who can make a lot of plays. I like the 3-4. I like the 4-3. They’re doing a lot of both. They’re doing a lot of pro-style things, so I like how that prepares you to get to the NFL.”
It’s a tough decision indeed. So when Mike needs advice, he can always turn to his father.
“He knows all the process,” he said, “so I can sit down and ask him any question as a father any time.”
The connection with Virginia looms large. When Moore discussed his visit to Florida, the subject drifted from Florida’s campus to UVa’s.
“I saw the (UF) campus before, I got to see it again,” he said. “I know the campus is a very beautiful place to be. Both places are very beautiful. So really pretty much, it’s just going to come down to that gut feeling.”