Smith Key For UVa Offensive Line in '14

By: Nate Sulham Email
By: Nate Sulham Email

With Morgan Moses graduating onto the NFL, the Virginia football team suddenly has a hole on the offensive line where its anchor used to reside.

The Cavaliers are hoping rising sophomore tackle Eric Smith can step in and fill the void created by Moses' departure.

Smith started the final eight games of the 2013 season for Mike London, earning Freshman All-American honors from 247 Sports and College Football News.

He also made history, becoming just the fourth player in school history to start a game at the tackle position as a freshman, joining D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Brad Butler and Moses.

Smith's play this spring has opened eyes, as he's moved from the right-side of the line to Moses old spot at left tackle, protecting the Cavaliers' quarterback.

It's a challenge London believes Smith is up to.

"Right now his development has been outstanding," London said. "He's played in some games and played against some of the best rushers that are out there. And now where he is now, his knowledge, he's a veteran. He can be as good as he wants to be and we expect him to be pretty good."

Smith has already ramped up his conditioning in anticipation of the move.

"I'm working on my hips and stuff in the weight room," Smith explained. "I had to go up on my power cleans and stuff just to convert to both sides. I'm constantly stretching myself just to stay agile."

He's also getting some pointers from a pretty good mentor -- Moses himself.

"When it came to one-on-one (drills) he pulled me aside and taught me what he learned at like the NFL Combine and stuff," Smith said. "Immediately after he told me that I pancaked a dude and he's like 'Yeah I told you."

Smith admits Moses' presence has made him up his game.

"He's like a big brother. It's like when your parents come to the game, you want to be on your "A" game."

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