Moody making strides at corner

Redshirt freshman had to leap from high school linebacker to college cornerback

MADISON — In his first fall training camp with the University of Wisconsin football program, Prince Moody looked like a fish out of water. That was understandable, considering that he had spent his high school career in the front seven, and was being asked to play cornerback.

"It was a shock," Moody said, "but redshirting last year I learned a lot and I'm trying to make the transition, just take it one step a day."

Moody was not surprised to begin his collegiate career in the defensive backfield. The Badgers' coaching staff had told him to expect to play strong safety or cornerback. What was shocking to him was just how extreme the transition was, from a technique standpoint.

Moody was the talent-rich state of Ohio's Division III co-defensive player of the year as a senior, while playing middle linebacker. He was predominantly a defensive end as a sophomore and an outside linebacker as a junior.

The difference between those positions and cornerback? Try night and day.

"(I had) a lot of growing pains," Moody said. "A lot of them. I'm still (having them) a little bit. I've got to grow right now. That's what I've been doing lately."

Moody has been much improved in this, his first spring practice season. He still needs to become more comfortable at his position, but he is learning bit by bit.

"The backpedal was the number one thing I really wanted to improve on and the coaches said I really improved on that," Moody said.

At 5-foot-11, 190 pounds, Moody has decent size for a cornerback. He is a natural in run support, an area where his front seven background undoubtedly helps him. A good athlete who is strong for his position, Moody said that, in addition to his backpedal, he has witnessed the most improvement in his ability to jam receivers. "And just being able to read the body language of the receiver and tell what routes they are running," he said. "I've improved a lot on that."

Moody opened this spring with the third-team defense, but moved up to the second team for a week when senior Zach Hampton was injured. Moody even received some reps with the first-team defense, when Jack Ikegwuonu was ailing.

"It was kind of a shock," Moody said, "like, whoa! But I'm taking it as I go, just trying to improve daily."

Currently, Moody appears to be UW's No. 5 cornerback. Not bad for a player still very much in the early stages of his development.

"It's a wonderful situation," Moody said. "I've been happy to do it. They told me each day, pick out one thing I need to improve on and focus on that thing. Just be ready because you never know."

Lately, Moody's focus has been on his "off technique", as he works to further improve his ability to backpedal and then run with receivers. The trap that can catch a talented athlete at the cornerback position is learning that instinct, footwork and an understanding of receivers' routes is just as important as raw athleticism.

Moody learned plenty of lessons on the scout team last year, facing receivers such as Brandon Williams and Jonathan Orr all season long. Williams and Orr had their way with opposition defensive backs far more often than not last season, so facing them was quite a challenge for a fresh-faced corner such as Moody.

Going up against Williams and Orr, Moody said, it was either "get embarrassed or try to get better, so I chose to try and get better."

Now, Moody is trying to impress new defensive backs coach Kerry Cooks and hoping he can work his way onto the field in 2006.

"I want to be able to show him I can cover and that I can come up and make the hit," Moody said. "I want to be a versatile corner, (which) is what I want to show him."

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