The up-and-down career for Carl Moore has taken a toll. Now he heads into his final season of eligibility as a starting wide receiver for Florida.
“I’m real excited,” Moore said. “It’s been too long. I’m just happy I get to go out there and play.”
Moore came to Florida with expectations he now admits were too high. He wanted the ball multiple times a game, and as a newcomer to the team who hadn’t proven anything, that didn’t happen.
“When I first got here, I was a little selfish and didn’t understand the system and how it had to be,” Moore said. “Now I understand everything and I’m all in.”
It’s difficult for a highly ranked player like Moore to come to school and settle for not being a feature part of the offense. When he wasn’t catching multiple passes every game, things off the field soon became difficult.
“It’s tough because when you’re being recruited, you hear everything that you want to hear,” Moore said. “You don’t see the downside of anything. A lot of kids, when they come in, they think, 'I’ve got a spot set for me and I don’t have to work for it.' When they get here, they realize there are guys just as good as you, if not better. Some kids want to work and some don’t.”
Moore missed the 2009 season after having a procedure done to repair a bulging disk. He tried multiple remedies to fix it and avoid the surgery, but his daily routine was too painful to put the surgery off for any longer.
“It was a tough injury,” Moore said. “We went almost a whole summer trying to get me to play without the procedures. It just got to a point where I couldn’t even sleep, tie my shoes or get out of bed. We had to go in and get surgery.”
Reenergized and refueled, Moore has a different perspective than most of his teammates. He experienced having football taken away from him last season, and he won’t take it for granted this year.
“I want to win a championship,” Moore said. “I’m thinking about winning. It’s my senior year, so I’m trying to have us go out and win every game. I’ve always had a winning mentality.”
The new energy around the wide receiver position has come because of new wide receivers coach Zach Azzanni. It’s not that the receivers didn’t like former coach Billy Gonzales, but a change of any coach creates a new energy at the position.
“We’ve got a change at receiver with Coach Z (Azzanni). I think we’re going out there to do what Florida receivers do. We’ll make plays when it’s our turn to make plays. We all love our coach. He’s a great coach, and he’s into what he’s doing. He teaches us all to be together, like power of the unit. He teaches everyone to stay together and just trust each other.”
The receivers have their lack of experience matched by new starting quarterback John Brantley. Moore saw an increased effort to lead from the moment Tim Tebow graduated and it officially became Brantley’s team.
Even during Moore’s first season in 2008, he recognized Brantley’s talent.
“When I got here, I noticed his arm the first day,” Moore said. “He’s always looked good to me. It’s just he’s finally taking that leadership role.”
Brantley has been so impressive on the practice field that when the receivers don’t run a perfect route, the quarterback still finds a way to get them the ball and allow the playmakers to do what they do best.
“The receivers always say with Brantley that even if we’re wrong, he’ll make us right,” Moore said. “Even if we do the wrong thing, he knows how to get the ball there in the right position so the defender can’t get to it.”
Along with the maturation off the field, Moore now recognizes the importance of blocking. He took it serious early in his career, but Coach Azzanni has impressed into his mind that if the receivers don’t block effectively, they won’t see the field.
“It’s a whole mentality,” Moore said. “We’re changing up our mindset and taking blocking serious all of our receivers are out there doing good at blocking. Everybody is trying to have that Riley Cooper mentality.”
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