Notes and Quotes from Training Camp
Aug. 9, 2010
CHARLOTTESVILLE — Check the Cavalier News Beat page on VirginiaSports.com on Tuesday for a feature story on junior Kris Burd, one of the ACC’s more underrated wide receivers.
For now, here are some notes from UVa’s fourth practice, which was held under a broiling sun and attracted a smattering of die-hard fans Monday:
* Practice No. 5 — the last one open to the public this summer — will start Tuesday at 3:45 p.m. The annual “Meet the Team Day” event is Sunday from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. at Scott Stadium.
* Senior cornerback Ras-I Dowling, who missed practice Saturday after his feet cramped up the day before, was back with the first-team defense Monday. At Sunday’s practice, Dowling took part in only a few drills — none involving contact — but Virginia’s medical staff had determined that his issue wasn’t serious.
“This is not a process to try to hurry and get him back out,” first-year coach Mike London said before practice Monday. “But our trainers and doctors say he’ll be fine. It’s just tolerating the pain. As a DB, your feet are your livelihood there. But with a guy that’s accumulated the amount of reps that he has, when he says he’s ready, then he’s ready to go.”
After practice Monday, Dowling, a team captain, wasn’t interested in looking back and discussing his foot problem.
“I’m back out here with my team,” he said. “That’s my main thing.”
Two other cornerbacks — sophomore Devin Wallace and fifth-year Mike Parker — benefited from the extra work they got while Dowling was sidelined.
“I’ve really been pleasantly surprised with the way they’re playing,” London said. “The other day on a long pass, Devin Wallace went up against [wideout] Dontrelle Inman and broke one up, and he’s a fearless corner. And that’s good, because now he’s getting the reps he needs.”
* There’s one fewer quarterback in training camp. Jake McGee, a true freshman from Collegiate School in Richmond, moved to tight end before Monday’s practice.
That leaves fifth-year senior Marc Verica, redshirt freshman Ross Metheny and true freshmen Michael Strauss, Michael Rocco and Miles Gooch to split snaps at quarterback, though the 6-3, 215-pound Gooch could move to another position too.
McGee’s shift wasn’t unexpected. He and London had discussed the possibility that McGee, a star quarterback at Collegiate, might become a tight end in college.
“I really saw myself as a tight end, too, but just wanted the opportunity to see what it was like [to play quarterback] at the next level,” McGee said after practice Monday.
After three days of practice, he said, “I could see Michael Rocco’s been doing really well, and the other three who have been here have been doing great, so we both thought for my future and for the program that a move would be best.”
McGee, who stands 6-5, weighs only about 215 pounds, but he’s confident he can add the bulk needed to play tight end at this level.
“It shouldn’t be too hard. Just gotta eat more,” McGee said. “I hadn’t been really trying to gain a lot, because I felt pretty comfortable where I was at quarterback, but now I just gotta be ready to go. It might take a little while, but I think the weight will definitely come.”
Look for McGee to redshirt this season. The Cavaliers’ projected starter at tight end is senior Joe Torchia. His backups are sophomores Colter Phillips and Paul Freedman.
“He’s a natural in terms of his height, his athletic skills,” London said of McGee. “Hopefully this will be the beginning of a long productive career.”
* After the first practice, the team had a pool party Friday night at Fry’s Spring Beach Club. Festivities included a “cannonball contest, bellyflop contest, basketball, just different things,” London said. “That’s part of team-building … It was really neat to see the interaction these guys had.”
And the winner of the bellyflop contest?
“I can tell you that Morgan Moses had the biggest splash,” London said, smiling. “There’s a lot of belly there, also.”
Moses, a true freshman from Meadowbrook High, is, at 6-6, 350, the biggest player on the team.
The bellyflop contest involved only players, London said. “No coaches wanted to take their shirts off to participate in that.”