By Brian Rice
KNOXVILLE, Tenn.- The story thus far on Emmanuel Moseley has been his off-season weight gain. Dramatic as the body transformation is, the real story is what Moseley has done on the field for Tennessee, a story that has impressed teammates and coaches alike.
Moseley was not as heavily recruited as some of his classmates at UT coming out of Greensboro, N.C., partly due to his size. But he won Tennessee coaches over with a stellar performance at camp last summer, followed by impressive game tapes to start his senior season at Dudley High School.
As impressed as coaches were with his tape, his teammates have been equally complimentary of the freshman during training camp.
"You can tell he's one of the veterans," said Brian Randolph, a veteran in his own right as one of the leaders in Tennessee's defensive backfield. "He's always making calls out there. You can tell he's been here."
"Being here" goes deeper than just enrolling in January. When he came to campus, Moseley carried just 145 pounds on his 5'11 frame. It was enough to allow him to get by on speed and quickness in high school, but the Southeastern Conference was going to be a different story.
Moseley needed bulk to allow him to show his talents on the field, and he needed it quickly in order to put those talents out here in time for the 2014 season. Just lifting weights wasn't going to be enough. He needed a complete plan to gain "the right pounds," as head coach Butch Jones labeled them. Enter Allison Maurer, Tennessee's sports nutritionist.
"I give it to Ms. Allison," Moseley said of the plan that Maurer put him on. "She really helped me out. She stayed on me about eating, so that's how I did it."
With the right calories coming in, it was up to strength coach Dave Lawson and his staff to get the pounds on with the right lifts to fill out his frame without sacrificing the speed and quickness he had during the process. It also fell on Moseley to follow all part of the plan and put in the work to accomplish his goal of seeing the field in the fall.
"Allison [Maurer] does a great job in our fueling station and works very closely with Jason [McVeigh] and Dave Lawson and they have done great job," Jones said. "And also a lot of credit goes to him, it is the sacrifices, it is getting up at 2 o'clock in the morning and making himself a triple-decker peanut butter and jelly sandwich, it is maybe eating a little bit more, it is getting the rest, it is working exceptionally hard in the weight room. And he has done that."
Defensive backs coach Willie Martinez was never concerned Moseley would lose the qualities that made him a special player as his body went throughout the transformation.
"A kid his length, you want to put the weight on," Martinez said. "He wasn't going to get any slower. If anything, he was going to be more explosive. With any strength he gets, it will improve his speed as well."
Moseley can feel the difference his gains have made on the field from spring practice to training camp.
"I notice it because in the spring I was kind of getting bumped and I may fall," he said. "Now I can hold my ground."
Fellow defensive back Devaun Swafford also took notice of the way Moseley changed his body and how it's changed his game.
"He's a tough guy," Swafford said. "He's coming with the boom. He's physical and uses his hands real well. I knew once he got some weight on him and some more strength he was going to be hard to handle."
Martinez said it isn't surprising that his fellow defensive backs have taken notice of him, but that there is still much to teach. Like the previous lack of size, talent can overcome to a certain extent, but Moseley now also has to bulk up in the meeting room.
"Players know who's a player, they know how a player acts," Martinez said. "He's earned a tremendous amount of respect from his teammates because everything that Emmanuel does is at full speed with a great attitude. He may not know everything, but he takes a lot of pride, he performs. When you have to make a play and produce, he always seems to come through and do that. It may not always look pretty, he may not always have the proper footwork, but he has great instincts and he loves to play the game. Hes a great teammate."