Moses a local hero trying to make good

ATHENS — Stopping in the grocery store or downtown or just about anywhere to oblige a fans' request is nothing new for Quentin Moses.

"Last year, I hung out mostly with Fred Gibson and D.J. Shockley," Moses said. "They got a lot of attention. Everywhere we went it was, ‘Fred, can you sign this?' or ‘D.J., can you sign this? Who's thatguy?‘"

This year, Moses knows, will be different. He's already been stopped in the grocery store for his own autograph. He was selected for the watch list for the Bednarik Award, which goes to the nation's top college defensive player.

"How can you be on a watch list when you haven't done anything?" he wondered when he got that news.

The answer is by recording 6.5 sacks in limited duty a year ago, including four in the final two games, and showing the type of potential that has teammates comparing him to his athletic hero -- Carolina Panthers' defensive end Julius Peppers.

"I think Quentin is going to be a guy that people are going to say,‘Wow, he's really good. How come he's not starting till this year?'" said Scott Wilkins, Moses' coach at Cedar Shoals High School. "Well, there's a guy named David Pollack who had a lot to do with that."

The thought of replacing Pollack, one of two three-time All-Americans in UGA history, already is weighing on Moses.

"You get nervous just thinking about that," he said. "That's almost impossible. I don't even look at it like I'm filling David Pollack's shoes. I just have to come out and be the best player I can be."

When a reporter told Moses recently that someone said Moses is a better pure pass rusher than Pollack, he said, " I would go back and question them again."

"(Pollack) is the best I've seen do it since I started doing it," he said. "I just can't say that I'm a better pure pass rusher or a better anything than him. Ask me in a year and maybe that'll be different."

Moses' development has been stunted somewhat by his flirtation with the Georgia basketball team.

"Q's a guy that has totally bought into the program now," defensive coordinator Willie Martinez said.

Moses' size -- 6-foot-5, 255 pounds -- wasn't exceptional on the basketball court, but stands out on the football field.

"It's not just that in the program. He really is 6-5," defensive ends coach Jon Fabris said. "In football, we're always wondering, ‘Where are all the tall guys?'"

Moses has tried to emulate another tall, ex-basketball playing defensive end -- Peppers, who played at North Carolina before becoming an All-Pro in the NFL.

"I call (Peppers' pro teammate Thomas Davis) and ask him about him all the time," Moses said. "He's like, ‘Q, he's just at a different level.'"

Some of Moses' teammates think he can get to that level.

"I see (Peppers) every day in him," said defensive tackle Gerald Anderson. "He has all the tools to be an All-American. He runs like him. He's got the upside like him."

Coaches from Florida, Florida State, Auburn, Tennessee, Alabama and as far away as Stanford came down Cedar Shoals drive, about eight miles from Georgia's campus, to recruit Moses because of that upside. But he always wanted to be a hometown hero.

"I see my teammates go home, and people in their town take pride in the fact that they play for Georgia," he said. "I'm hoping to be that way right here at home."

Cedar Shoals' coaches regularly hold Moses up as an example.

"They know who Quentin is, they know what Quentin did here," Wilkins said, "and we will not hesitate to remind them that Quentin was an excellent student-athlete."

Quentin Moses soon will have to get used to a lot more spotlight.

"It's a different thing to me from the role I've been playing, kind of laying back in the shadows of David Pollack and Will Thompson," he said. "I'm eager to accept a role like this. I hope I can go out and fulfill all the expectations."

Quotable: "He's got thoroughbred ability," defensive ends coach Fabris said, "but the great players have some thoroughbred ability with a mule mentality."

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