Moses making strides

ATHENS - Football coaches in general, and Quentin Moses' position coach in particular, are harpers. By nature and by necessity, they focus more on the bad than the good.

Quentin Moses, a redshirt freshman defensive end for No. 11 Georgia, grew up in Athens earning most of his acclaim on the basketball court, where positive reinforcement was usually no more than three days and the next game away. Then he began his football career with the Bulldogs (3-1, 1-1 SEC) with a redshirt season and it seemed that every move he made was wrong, a point made equally as clear by either defensive ends coach Jon Fabris or the NFL-bound offensive tackles he faced while on the scout team.

"I felt like I was doing so much wrong that I'd never be a good football player," he said.

He missed 2003 spring practice because he joined Georgia's basketball team and entered the fall as a third-team afterthought. However, a season-ending injury to Northside High School's Will Thompson, moved Moses into the playing rotation and he has blossomed.

His playing time, behind Robert Geathers, has gradually increased, from 15 plays in the season-opener to 25 the next two games to more than 30 against LSU, and he has responded with a team-high 2.5 sacks.

"Every game they are giving me a chance to show more and more of what I can do, and I'm trying to make the most of my opportunities," he said. "I'm like, maybe I could be a pretty good football player."

Still, it's easy to see where Moses got his initial theory about his ability.

"I wasn't aware he had made an impact," said Fabris, who grades his players by an exacting scale on which Bulldog All-American David Pollack is the standard of expectation.

"It's way too early in the game to start tossing out accolades," Fabris said. "That's like saying a baseball player who goes 2-for-4 one night and 3-for-5 the next is a .500 hitter. You can't say that. You have to take things over a long period of time."

Fabris will concede, at least, that Moses has potential. At 6-foot-5, 250 pounds, and with the athleticism of a basketball player, he could grow into force on the end.

"He's done a very nice job, but he's still got his best playing days ahead of him," Coach Mark Richt said. "He's a guy who has a lot of, as Mel Kiper says, upside."

Moses is tied for seventh on the team with 19 tackles. No other reserve is in the top 10 and no other Georgia player has more than one sack. The fact that Moses leads the team in that category embarrasses him.

"I don't even like to think about it," he said. "I realize when you've got David Pollack on the other end and he's got three or four guys blocking him, you're supposed to make plays. Somebody has to make the plays."

Pollack has acknowledged his personal frustration at having just .5 sacks this year but is at least happy someone is taking advantage of all the attention he draws.

"(Moses) doesn't owe me anything," Pollack said. "He's doing what he needs to do. Q-Mo has a lot of ability. He's still growing, and he's still finding out how good he wants to be. He's doesn't quite know what he's got yet."

"He has a chance to improve," Fabris said. "Hopefully, he'll make the choice to do so."

Moses has already made the choice to give up basketball so he can participate in spring practice and work in the weight room. He hopes to be 265 pounds by the end of his career and says that would be almost impossible participating in basketball conditioning.

It was a difficult choice for Moses, who still thinks of himself as a basketball player first. He was an all-state forward and led the Jaguars to the state quarterfinals his senior season in high school. (He scored 40 points and grabbed 16 rebounds in a playoff game against the state's No. 2 team that year.)

Even during games, when he's rushing the passer, he finds himself thinking about a basketball post move that might get him past a blocker, he said. This year's success on the football field hasn't made his decision, which he said is final, any easier.

"It seems like it would help, but actually it doesn't ," he said. "I think about it all the time. I guess I'll finish up my career (playing intramural basketball) in the Ramsey Center."


MOSES FILE
Quentin Moses
Defensive end
6-foot-5, 250 pounds/redshirt freshman
Major: Arts and Sciences
High School: Cedar Shoals
High School honors: All-state basketball player ... honorable mention
all-state football player after recording 77 tackles and 12 sacks as
senior
College honors: Played in three basketball games for Jim Harrick's
final team in 2002 but didn't score any points ... Moved to second-team
defensive end after injury to Will Thompson of Northside High School in
Warner Robins
FYI: Moses is the cousin of Georgia running back Tyson Browning

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