Aug. 6, 2010
CHARLOTTESVILLE — On the first day of UVa’s training camp in 2009, Oday Aboushi was barely two months removed from his graduation at Xavieran High School in Brooklyn, N.Y.
A year later, the 6-6, 310-pound sophomore heads into the Wahoos’ first preseason practice as the projected starter at right offensive tackle.
“It was tough,” Aboushi said of his first summer at Virginia. “Trying to make the transition from being a high school student-athlete to being a college student-athlete is totally different, let alone trying to learn schemes and plays. It’s different, but you’ve just got to embrace it. You’ve got to be up for the challenge and be ready for whatever’s thrown at you.”
As a true freshman, Aboushi made his debut in UVa’s fifth game, when he played five snaps in a blowout win over Indiana. By season’s end, he’d appeared in six games and been in for 95 plays.
With Will Barker gone, Aboushi took over at right tackle during spring practice this year, and he’s not likely to relinquish the job.
“I feel a lot more comfortable,” Aboushi said. “I’ve been in the games already and I’ve played quite a bit and I know the feeling it is to walk out on a field in front of all these people and just to perform well and to be there with your team. I know how it feels, and to have a full-time job doing that, I embrace it. I wouldn’t change it for the world.”
UVa figures to have at least two new starters on the offensive line this fall: Aboushi and Anthony Mihota, who takes over for the departed Jack Shields at center. Also new is the line’s coach, Ron Mattes, who replaced Dave Borbely.
Out of 120 teams nationally, Virginia ranked 112th in rushing offense last year. The Wahoos ranked 115th in sacks allowed, giving up an average of 3.4 per game. Neither stat, of course, reflected well on the line.
“We know we didn’t do as well as we could have or we should have last year, run blocking and pass blocking,” Aboushi said. “So this year we took the criticism to heart. We didn’t take it in a bad way. We used it as a motivation. We know we have a lot to pick up, and we’ve come a long way in the last six months and this summer. We’ve picked it up a lot, and we have a little ways to go in camp to pick up a few things and what not on the offensive line.
“But we definitely have something to prove this year, and we’re going to show a lot of people something they haven’t seen.”
Aboushi praised the coaching style of Mattes, a UVa alumnus who played offensive tackle in the NFL.
“If you have a question, he’s not going to be the type to yell at you and dog you out for doing something wrong he just went over,” Aboushi said. “He’s going to try to help you fix it. He believes that instead of wasting time yelling at you, why not use the time to explain to you. Which is a great way. I love that about him, knowing that if I mess up I can definitely come off the field and talk to him about it and go fix it on the next play or go fix the next time I get in there.”