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Catching Up with a Virginia Legend

By Raj Sagar, Athletics Media Relations

His number 12 is one of only six numbers retired at the University of Virginia.

In 1989, he led Virginia to a share of the ACC championship.

He was the quarterback of one of Virginia football’s most prolific offenses, and in 1990 led the team to a No. 1 ranking three consecutive weeks en route to being named a first team All-American. He then finished fourth in the voting for the Heisman Trophy, garnering more votes than any ACC player in history at that time.

Shawn Moore gave Virginia football fans life-lasting memories, and the University returned the favor.

“Of all the different places I’ve played football, as a small kid, to high school, to UVa, to the NFL, the pinnacle of my playing days were far and away those at the University,” Moore said. “A common recurring dream of mine is me in the Orange and Blue, playing in front of all our fans. Becoming a recognizable name in my last year, after being there through all the struggles and the ups and downs with my teammates, made them some of the best years of my life.”

Today Moore has traded his helmet and spikes for a clipboard, spending his time on the sidelines as quarterbacks and defensive backs coach, at St. Albans School, a private school in Washington, D.C., where he also serves as dean of students. In terms of both football strategy as well as his psychological approach to coaching, Moore has incorporated much of what he learned under former quarterbacks coach Tom Sherman while playing at UVa.

“Coach Sherman always knew how to get the most out of every player on the team,” Moore said. “He had a knack for singling out a player’s strengths, and establishing an individual niche for each person on the team. Sherman was the one who introduced me to the passing tree. I realized it would be something that I could base my offense off on, and it really is amazing that I am using the same terminology and offense I learned from Coach Sherman more than 20 years ago.”

Just as Virginia often did during Moore’s tenure, St. Albans was able to open up the offense and spread the field with its new system. Moore’s tactics seem to be working. Last season St. Albans finished 9-1 and won its first Interstate Athletic Conference championship in 14 years.

As a player at Virginia, Moore was a dual threat behind center. His electrifying playing style riveted fans. Not afraid to tuck the ball and run, Moore had 306 yards and eight touchdowns rushing to go along with his 2,262 yards and 21 touchdowns passing during the 1990 campaign in which he finished fourth in the Heisman Trophy voting.

Following his illustrious career at Virginia, Moore was chosen in the 11th round (284th overall) of the 1991 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos. The game of the scrambling quarterback does not often translate well to the NFL, so Moore knew he had a tough road ahead of him.

“I was disappointed with where I was drafted,” Moore said. “It was a shock to go from what I was doing at Virginia, to where I was with the Broncos. It was a very hard learning process in which I had to learn extremely sophisticated offenses in a short amount of time. Things didn’t work out my first year, but when I came to camp my second year things turned around.”

In his first preseason game that second year of camp, Moore threw a touchdown pass. Things got better from there, and he soon earned the backup quarterback job. Hot Tub,’ as legendary Broncos quarterback John Elway jokingly called Moore because of his tendency to sprint into the hot tub after practice, had a short career in the NFL but has found ways to stay connected to the game.

After playing for a number of teams in the CFL, Moore has since worked as an XFL scout and held various administrative jobs with the NCAA. In December 2002, the NFL and NFL Players’ Association began a program called USA Football, put in place to galvanize and promote youth football around the country. The organization provides coaches with informational materials and parents with health and safety advice.

“When they offered me the position of director in the program, I jumped at it,” Moore said. “It was a positive environment and gave me an opportunity to promote the game. I consider myself incredibly fortunate for the opportunities football has given me, and hopefully through this program, we helped to give youth around the nation similar chances.”

Although he has been removed from the program for three years now, during the third quarter of all NFL games a commercial by the NFLPA still features Moore high-fiving kids as they run off the field.

The 1989 team Moore captained holds a special place in the hearts of many Virginia football fans as it was the first of the two ACC championships UVa has won. Explosive talents such as wide receiver Herman Moore (no relation) and defensive end Ray Savage (first team All-American) helped Shawn Moore anchor a well-rounded Virginia team. The Cavaliers finished the season 10-2 and shared the ACC title with Duke.

“I knew we had a special team in ’89,” Moore said. “Herman was one of those rare players who could dominate any game. He wanted the ball on every play, and whenever I threw it his way, it seemed like he would find a way to go up and get it. Ray was one of the fiercest competitors I have been around, and he really set the tone for the defense.”

Shawn Moore was both a special player, as well as a standout citizen. To this day, he still shows his true colors: Orange and Blue.

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