Virginia Beat: 2009 Recruiting Class Makes Their Presence Felt on OL

This weekend was the college football season opener.  You might have noticed.  Virginia, like everyone else, opened up against Richmond and dispatched the Spiders with relative ease.  Storylines abounded, such as the familial relationship between Richmond coach Danny Rocco and his nephew Mike, who happened to be UVA’s starting quarterback.  Or the intertwined coaching staffs: UVA head coach Mike London and DC Jim Reid are both former Richmond head coaches, while Richmond employs seven coaches that once either played for or coached at UVA.

Another storyline you might not have seen is on UVA’s offensive line.  All five members of the starting unit were recruited by Al Groh four summers ago and signed with Virginia in February of 2009 … but all took wildly different paths to get to the same place: lined up next to each other as the Cavaliers’ starting offensive line.

Maybe the most traditional route was that of Sean Cascarano, who started at right guard.  Recruited out of suburban Chicago, Cascarano turned down Big Ten offers and chose UVA in June of 2008.  Cascarano redshirted his freshman season, then spent two seasons apprenticing as a backup at both guard and tackle.  He moved into the starting lineup this year, and Richmond was his first career start.

Luke Bowanko
(photo courtesy TheSabre.com)

Following a path not terribly different from Cascarano is center Luke Bowanko, who came out of more traditional UVA recruiting grounds in Northern Virginia.  Bowanko was the first of the five starting OL to commit to UVA, making his commitment in April of 2008.  (Interestingly, the four members of that class who committed before him have long since transferred out, so he is the class graybeard, so to speak.)  Bowanko, too, redshirted in 2009, and emerged into the starting lineup as a sophomore last year, starting all 13 games.  He was a guard then; he made the switch to center during the offseason, and won the job in fall camp.

At left tackle, Oday Aboushi had an interesting recruiting story.  A native of New York City, Aboushi was one of the more highly-rated talents on UVA’s board, and waited until after his senior season in high school to decide, selecting Boston College in November.  Even that turned out to be too early, though; Aboushi about-faced a few weeks later and decommitted.  He was a little more deliberate the second time, and picked UVA in January.  Lucky for the Hoos.  Aboushi was a four-star recruit and lived up to it.  He played early in his freshman year and was inserted into the starting lineup as a sophomore, and now enters his third year as a starter.  Better yet, he brings NFL talent to the position; Aboushi will almost certainly be drafted, perhaps on the draft’s second day, when the NFL takes the stage in April.

Left guard Cody Wallace, from New Jersey, had no such decision crisis, committing to UVA on his first visit, in the summer, about two weeks after Cascarano gave his pledge.  The NCAA had other ideas, though.  Wallace had qualifying grades and test scores and enrolled at UVA in the summer with the rest of the recruiting class, participating in summer conditioning.  However, he was not to be found on the field when fall camp began.  UVA’s staff had received a notice from the NCAA to hold him out, and he was ultimately found ineligible; he was one credit-hour shy of qualification.  Wallace decided to stick with his UVA pledge and played the 2009 season at Fork Union Military Academy, earning the final credit needed for NCAA approval.  He then redshirted in 2010, making him the only sophomore of the group.  Wallace was once considered the center of the future, but proved unable to hold off Bowanko there, and moved to left guard, the spot held for four years by Austin Pasztor.

Finally, the most famous (to UVA fans) of the group: Morgan Moses.  It’s a name that recruitniks have known for years and years; even casual fans had heard of Moses before he signed with UVA.  Of the five, Moses grew up closest to Charlottesville, but while Virginia was always in the picture for Moses, he was a national-level recruit with attention from seemingly every school in the country.  Alabama, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Virginia Tech — everyone wanted him.  UVA recruiting fans spent the year on pins and needles until Moses finally made his choice of UVA on National Signing Day.  Even then, the saga wasn’t over; Moses also had to get his academic house in order at Fork Union, and so UVA fans had to wait another year while Moses fended off yet more attention from national suitors, and finally enrolled in 2010.  From there, there was little doubt Moses would play.   Dubbed “Shrek” by his teammates for his enormous size, he became just the third true freshman in Virginia history to start at offensive tackle (D’Brickashaw Ferguson was the most recent, before Moses.)  Once again, Moses was worth the wait; he and Aboushi form one of the most elite offensive tackle tandems in the country.

It’s certainly an eclectic group; they come from four different states, and the roster might list them as a sophomore, a junior, or a senior.  But could UVA fans have envisioned that when five offensive linemen signed their names to letters of intent in February 2009, they’d take such drastically different paths and end up all in the same place in September 2012?  The 2009 recruiting class was essentially Al Groh’s last gasp on the recruiting trail; the ’09 season was a disaster and Groh would be fired less than a year after that class signed.  But he left behind an excellent recruiting class as a legacy; one that included 12 current starters, five of which line up within ten feet of each other.


Brendan’s bio:  I’m just this guy … this ordinary Virginia graduate and fan who woke up one day realizing his opinions on everything UVA could no longer be contained in one space.  Thus was born From Old Virginia, a labor of love where you can find obsessive opinionating on Virginia football, basketball, lacrosse, baseball, and whatever else when the mood strikes.  And if that’s still not enough for you, go to the Twitster and follow @MaizeNBlueWahoo for the dumb stuff that pops into my head when I’m watching the Hoos.

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