Surprise Nominee

Dan Mozes was quite surprised to find out he was on the final list of eligible candidates for the Rimington Award, considering that he didn't make the preseason watch list.

The reason for that, of course wasn't that Mozes didn't have the talent or credentials to make him a viable candidate. It was the fact that the outstanding junior didn't begin the season at the position. The Rimington, named for Nebraska center Dave Rimington, is awarded to the top center in the country, so Mozes, a guard during fall camp and the first couple games of the season, wasn't eligible for the honor.

Once Mozes made the move to center, however, his play immediately made him a candidate for the award, and his outstanding performance during the 2005 season earned him a spot among the final six. That honor, however, took him by surprise.

"I didn't even know I was up for the award," Mozes admitted after the Mountaineers had completed their perfect Big East season by defeating South Florida. "I remember I was up for the top offensive lineman (Lombardi) at the beginning of the year, but that was about seventy players or so. Then to see my name get put up for the Rimington Award, I was very surprised. Garin [Justice] called me and said, ‘congratulations' and I said, ‘For what?' I figured maybe the Big East teams had come out or something. So it was very surprising to see my name up there."

For a player who came into the season entrenched at a position at which he was a two-year starter, the move to another spot came as something of a shock. However, Mozes, in his usual manner, simply put his head down, worked hard, and quickly became the anchor in the middle of the line that his team desperately needed. Although the self-effacing Pennsylvanian never blows his own horn, he did admit there was a good bit of satisfaction in making the switch and not only surviving, but also excelling.

"It shows how I developed and overcame adversity, and that I can continue to get better," said Mozes in more than a bit of an understatement. It also showed that WVU's rock of the line has the ability to play more than one position – a factor that could well help him in the NFL draft following his senior season.

For now, however, Mozes doesn't entertain any such thoughts. He rarely talks about his accomplishments, and is always quick to credit his teammates up front. The concept of teamwork, especially along the offensive line, is paramount to the hard-working junior, and it showed in his comments about earning the Rimington finalist spot. Immediately after offering the one-sentence analysis of his play, he immediately returned to the team-oriented thinking he has always displayed.

"It shows the success we had as an offensive line," Mozes said. "In my eyes, I don't think I'm the best center, or even in the top six in the country. It's the guys around me that help make me look good. Those two guys on either side of me, with the blocks they make, it sometimes makes me look a lot better than what I am. Ryan Stanchek and Jeremy Sheffey – I wouldn't have any other two guys in the world next to me."

Mozes' teammates up front likely hold similar sentiments. They know, despite his deflections, that he is a rare breed – a player that is highly skilled, but also works hard to maximize his potential. The 2004 All-Big East pick will likely repeat that honor this year, and will likely end his career in 2006 as a four-year starter – another rare accomplishment, especially at a position as demanding as offensive line. Or, we should say, two positions.

The Rimington Award winner will be announced on Dec. 8.

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