Nic’s New Life
Ex-TA Star Reports To JMU Next Week
Not that he’s a pushover. At 6-foot-4 and 290 pounds, Moyers is big enough to play Division I football — and he’ll soon get his chance.
Moyers will turn 18 next Friday and move in on campus a day later. He’ll barely have time to unpack before the Dukes start practice on Monday, Aug. 5.
In truth, though, the steep transition to college football has already begun.
The former Turner Ashby High School offensive tackle has implemented weight-lifting workouts from Jason Riddell, JMU’s director of strength and conditioning, for the past month or so and has continued to focus on healthy diet practices picked up from high school wrestling to prepare himself physically for his freshman season with the Dukes.
Four days a week in the TA weight room has become five days a week this summer, with Moyers taking only Saturday and Sunday off from lifting. Moyers, who participated in TA’s agility and speed drills during the offseason, said he also runs an additional two miles each weekend.
“I’m just expecting to go in and work hard, work as hard as I can my freshman year,” Moyers said before a Friday evening workout at TA. “If they need me, they need me. If they redshirt me, that’s fine too, because my time will come eventually. I’m positive I’ll see the field within the next four or five years. When they need me, I’ll be ready.”
Mental preparation, though, is equally important because incoming freshmen are blitzed with the new challenges and distractions that come with college life.
“You get ’em started [in summer camp] and you see them adjust,” said Newsome, JMU’s offensive line coach, who spent the past seven seasons at Virginia Tech in the same role. “… And then, school starts and they come to your meeting cross-eyed.”
That’s because of the new rigors of college classes and the ever-present social opportunities that distract freshmen.
How soon Moyers will see the field depends on injuries, depth and his ability to adjust. Newsome said the Dukes would like to keep Moyers as an offensive tackle. As for Moyers playing this year? Unlikely.
“First of all, it’s very difficult for them to play as a true freshman,” Newsome said. “The terminology, speed of defensive linemen, the game is just so much faster. … I think they realize it, too. It’s kind of a shock to them.”
It’s a shock you can’t exactly prepare for, either.
Moyers had a chance to block another incoming JMU freshman and even a few Division I-A prospects during the VHSCA All-Star Game in Hampton on July 12. But that’s just scratching the surface, because even those elite high school athletes haven’t had college-level training.
“With Nic, he’s a real young guy. He’s young for any freshman standards,” said Newsome, who coached Division I-AA All-Americans at Madison during a previous stint under coach Mickey Matthews. “He’s 17, which is a little unusual in itself. As far as physical tools, I think he’s got ’em. We just have to get him headed in the right direction. We’ll have to see how long that takes.”
It took Moyers one season of wrestling to capture the Valley District heavyweight title and qualify for states at 285 pounds. So he can certainly be categorized as a fast learner. Wrestling also helped him focus on diet more than ever before.
In fact, weight watching during wrestling became a game to Moyers.
“You don’t think drinking a Gatorade bottle can make you gain two pounds, but it does and it’s liquid,” said Moyers, who envisions himself muscling up to 315 or 320 pounds at JMU. “… It’s been fun. It sounds weird, but it’s kinda been fun, watching my weight and trying to keep it at a certain point.”
As for any dietary supplements of choice?
“I’m more all-natural. I’m not really into pills and all that stuff,” Moyers said. “Just lifting, straight up. And as far as diet goes, I don’t really drink soda anymore. I’ve cut that out and snack foods [such as chips and Little Debbie’s Swiss rolls]. I’m more eating good meats, you know, vegetables and stuff like that. My mom cooks me good stuff. Praise her for that.”
Following JMU’s workout packet (roughly a 10-page guide, he said), Moyers has noticed a distinct increase in upper-body strength. As much as he wouldn’t mind playing right away, Moyers said redshirting would be a plus, allowing him to focus on academics, adjust to college life and mature physically.
TA coach Charlie Newman doesn’t believe Moyers is done growing.
“With linemen in particular, because they have the potential to grow so much anyway since they’re big-framed guys,” Newman said. “I really want to see what Nic looks like in four or five years, getting in the weight room religiously all the time. He’s worked hard in the weight room, but that’s not going to compare to what he’ll do there.”
Just ask North Carolina’s projected starting right guard Landon Turner.
The former Harrisonburg High School standout redshirted his first year, biding his time and starting the last four games for the Tar Heels last season. He will be a redshirt sophomore this fall.
“It was really tough not being able to play,” Turner recalled. “Especially going to games, going out there knowing you aren’t going to get any playing time. As a competitor, you want to get out there and compete. If your mindset isn’t right, you can get down on yourself. But really, at the end of the day, it’s a beneficial thing.”
Beneficial in the long-term, which can be difficult for high school stars used to playing every down. But Turner said the payoff of finally being able to maul defenders on Saturdays was “really sweet.”
“It was like all the hard times just dissipated and everything became worth it,” he said. “It was one of the more exciting times of my life.”
Turner’s advice for Moyers?
“If you’re redshirting, keep your head back, keep on moving, keep on working,” Turner said. “You can never work enough. You have to master your craft while you have the time to do it.”