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September 16, 2011
As they prepare to begin the next stage of their life, making the transition from high school to college is never an easy step for any football recruit. For teammates and best friends, Brent Wilkerson and Michael Moore of Hyattsville (Md.) DeMatha, the move to college will also mean that they will have to look at each other as competitors for the first time.
Looking down the line of scrimmage on both offense and defense, Wilkerson and Moore have seen each other as bookend tight ends and defensive ends at DeMatha. Through their time at DeMatha they have developed a bond both on and off the field, that some thought might last after high school.
"We did talk about going to the same school, but we weren't forcing it or anything like that," said Wilkerson, a 6-foot-3, 245-pounder who had more than 20 scholarship offers. "We were just going to see how it goes and if we ended up at the same school, then it was going to happen, but we weren't forcing it."
During the spring and early summer, the two decided to take numerous unofficial visits together.
"Whenever we took a visit to a school I would say what I liked and he would say what he liked, so we always compared our thoughts," said Moore, a 6-foot-4, 255-pounder who had more than 30 different offers.
"Yeah, it'll be tough and I'll miss him since I see him every day at school," said Wilkerson. "It'll be tough, but we'll stay in contact."
For Moore, the decision to go to Virginia was one that many expected, since his father, Shawn Moore, is a legend at the school and is now a member of the coaching staff. The elder Moore finished fourth in the Heisman voting back in 1990 and is regarded as one of the best players to ever wear a Cavaliers uniform. However, despite the connection to UVa, Michael was not a legacy lock.
"I really didn't know where I was going at first," said Moore. "Basically I was just trying to keep my options open, and then around the summer time it came down to Florida and Virginia, with the SEC and ACC. I just thought I'd be happier with the ACC and UVa."
In fact, his teammate and best friend Wilkerson thought he was headed elsewhere.
"I thought he was going to Florida," said Wilkerson. "No lie, I thought it was almost a done deal.
But Moore chose to follow his father and that legacy was key in the end.
"Just growing up there, I pretty much knew everything about it," said Moore, who will play defensive end at Virginia. "Going up there when I was younger, seeing the football games, seeing everybody, seeing the impact my dad had up there and having everyone tell me what he did there was great to see."
While Moore always had Virginia in the back of his mind, for Wilkerson his process was more of a clean slate until he realized that Penn State was the place for him.
"Just the atmosphere, the coaches, good education, a chance to play early, so it was all a good mixture for me," said Wilkerson. "I've been going up there since eighth grade, so I feel very comfortable with everybody."
Aside from ending up at different schools, Wilkerson and Moore will likely also play on different sides of the ball at the next level.
"I'll actually probably be at tight end," said Wilkerson, regarding his future at Penn State. "I like both, but I probably like tight end more."
For Moore, the additional draw of Coach Mike London having a defensive mind and coaching that side of the ball in the NFL further helped his decision.
"I'm really excited about that," said Moore. "We're going to be one of the top ACC teams one day and with the way we're recruiting, it's just going to get better."
Moore is actually hoping to help Virginia with the recruiting process.
"I'm trying to recruit kids to Virginia," said Moore. "I talk to people on Facebook all the time to try to keep them thinking about UVa."
However, Moore has given up trying to use his recruiting skills on his best friend.
"Yeah, I gave up on Brent," said a laughing Moore.
With their college decisions out of the way, Wilkerson and Moore are now able to concentrate on their last season on the field as teammates.
"I'm happy it's over and I just want to focus on this and winning a championship," said Wilkerson. "Losing to Calvert Hall was tough (an 18-0 loss in the Patriot Classic) but we will bounce back."
Moore has similar expectations.
"Getting the process over with helped me clear my mind so that I could focus on the football team, and try to bring a championship back to DeMatha," said Moore. "We'll be there at the end."