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2014 NFL Draft: Morgan Moses hopes to join Virginia's OL pipeline to pros

Whether he's wrapping up classes while prepping for the draft or keeping his head up on a losing team, offensive tackle prospect Morgan Moses knows what it takes to keep his focus straight and steady.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The University of Virginia's coaching staff knows a thing or two about protecting the passer. For the last several years, some of the finest offensive linemen have come from the Cavaliers program -- names like D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Branden Albert and Eugene Monroe. Morgan Moses hopes to join those ranks as one of the top o-line prospects in this year's NFL Draft.

Even though Morgan's dream of playing in the NFL will come true in a matter of several weeks, he's still maintaining focus on his day-to-day class schedule until that day. It's the same focus he displayed on the field for a disappointing Virginia team that finished 2-10 his senior year. One NFL team will benefit from his determination and focus, and it might even be his boyhood favorites, the Atlanta Falcons.

I know you're still in school right now, so how much are you able to think about the journey ahead? Have you done much reflection on entering your pro career or being done with your college career?

I've definitely started to think about it a lot. Being able college is one of the things that I've always wanted to do. To be able to get a degree from the University of Virginia and be able to work out and achieve my dream to play in the NFL is almost like a double whammy. It's the best of both worlds.

Do you remember when you first had the idea that you wanted to play at the pro level?

I started off young playing football. So being able to go through that, everybody had those dreams. Just like when you'd play basketball, everybody had the dream of being the next Michael Jordan. Growing up and being able to fulfill my dream of playing football is definitely a blessing. I'm grateful to be able to do something that I love doing and be good at it.

Virginia has a great pipeline from your position to the NFL. Did that come into play when you chose Virginia? Or do you feel a part of something now?

I definitely feel a part of something. We have so many guys in the NFL out of the University of Virginia. D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Eugene Monroe, Branden Albert, Austin Pasztor. You look at guys like that and you get the feeling like, 'Man, I could be the next guy out of Virginia.' For me, going to UVA not only provided a lot for me academically and social-wise to make the man I am today, but also being from Virginia, I felt coming out of high school, all the great linemen from Virginia always leave the state. I always wanted to be one of those guys that set a precedent of keeping that talent in Virginia. I thought, 'Why not?' I felt it was the best fit for me, and it turned out to be great.

You guys had a rough year this year. What do you learn from an experience like this?

I wanted to leave a mark on UVA in my last year, and I really feel that I came out and did that.

It's definitely tough to evaluate yourself when you're going through a season like this past year. You've gotta look at yourself and ask, 'What am I doing? What can I do to better myself as a player and better my team?' Going in and playing teams like BYU and Oregon right off the bat, I knew it was going to be a chance to prove ourselves against these top teams. But when I look at it now and think of the season, my main focus was... I know we're down and not playing as good as we can, but just being able to keep the vibe going and try to help my team win.

A lot of players when you get down to that losing season and you're halfway through and you know a bowl game is out of the question, the motivation for players can fall off a bit. I didn't want that to happen. I wanted to leave a mark on UVA in my last year, and I really feel that I came out and did that.

Have you always been wired that way? When you look at your ability to stay focused, where does that come from?

I knew going into the season that it was my last time around to put on my pads for the university and give it my all. So I knew no matter what the outcome was, I always thought about not getting down on the team. You wanted to make your last play as good as your first play. So I took that mentality with me. I tried to push the guys around me in the same way.

Being on a young team with so much young talent, I saw those guys and they're not that far from winning games. If you look at the games we lost this last year, besides Oregon, you're talking about a lot of close games. When you talk about Maryland, we missed a game-winning field goal with four seconds on the clock. Just games like that. So I just tell the guys to keep on pressing.

How hard is it to balance classes and focus on prep for the NFL at this point?

I'm able to keep it balanced. I'm only taking two classes. So when you're used to taking 16 credit hours per semester, it's easier. And Virginia is not an easy school to get through. The time management skills I learned in previous years definitely helped me to keep up with my training schedule, which is pretty crazy as well.

The NFL pushed back the draft a few weeks. Is it hard to wait given that there's still three months left?

I try not to think about it. I know the things I can do for myself to get better as a person. Right now the Combine in a couple of weeks, then Pro Day after that and then you have workouts after that. So the key is just to work on myself and whatever happens will happen. You just have to be ready to go.

What's the biggest point of focus for you then as you try to improve?

I really don't think there's one thing that I need to work on. Being a football player, you can work on everything. I'm not going to sit here and say I'm the most well-rounded football player out here. There's a lot of aspects of my game that I'm working on that I'd like to get better. But I'm not going to sit and point out just one thing. I think I have to get better at it all.

Did you have a favorite team growing up?

I grew up a Falcons fan.

So if Thomas Dimitroff writes your name on a draft card...

Growing up an Atlanta Falcons fan, it'd definitely be an honor. But whoever drafts me, it will just be an honor to play. As I said, that's been my dream, so to fulfill that dream is a blessing of its own.

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