Advertisement
Terps

As Maryland heads to 2017 season finale, DJ Moore contemplates record and future

Maryland's DJ Moore catches a pass in front of Indiana's Rashard Fant earlier this season at Maryland Stadium.

College Park — DJ Moore typically lets his actions speak more than his words, whether it’s with his coaches and teammates or when reporters try to get anything from the Maryland wide receiver.

So when contemplating whether Saturday’s game against Penn State at Maryland Stadium will be Moore’s last as a Terp, most are left like many of the opposing cornerbacks and safeties trying to cover him.

Advertisement

Nobody is quite sure what the 5-foot-11, 215-pound junior is going to do.

“I can see it going either way, honestly,” said Nick Lincoln, who was the offensive coordinator at Imhotep Charter in Philadelphia when Moore played there. “Before the season, I think he was leaning toward making that move — going [to the NFL] — but I don’t know how he feels now.”

Advertisement

Given the spectacular season Moore has put together — with 72 receptions, he is just six shy of break Geroy Simon’s 23-year-old single season school record — his pro stock probably can’t get any higher.

Moore has done this playing with five different quarterbacks and he might want to see what he could do playing with just one.

Aside from the Terps beating the No. 12 Nittany Lions as three-touchdown underdogs, the only thing left for Maryland fans to root for is Moore getting the record — and then returning for his senior year.

Asked during a teleconference with reporters Wednesday whether he was thinking about the NFL, Moore said, “That’s going to be a decision later down the line.

“Right now I’m just trying to get through the season as a team and when it comes down it, it’s going to be a business decision on my part and the coaching staff to do what I can do.”

Moore kept the door open for a possible return, adding that it will have to do “with how the end of the season goes and what’s best for me.” He needs 67 receiving yards to become the just the third Maryland receiver to reach 1,000 yards in a season — Marcus Badgett (1,240 in 1992) and Torrey Smith (1,055 in 2010) were the others.

A three-star prospect coming out of high school, Moore’s only other scholarship offer until late in the recruiting process was from Albany, a Football Championship Subdivision school.

“I don’t think he did all those little camps and things to get the notoriety,” Lincoln said. “He’s just like a pure football player, he wasn’t caught up in the hype of recruiting.”

Advertisement

Yet Moore had confidence that he would play — and possibly star — at this level.

“To me, yeah in my mind I knew I was going to be able to do something special, but you had to go out and prove it to your teammates and the coaches,” Moore said.

Asked what gave him that kind of confidence, Moore said, “The people that came in with me through my [recruiting] class, they knew what I could do. They gave me confidence throughout camp when I first got here and just said that I’m a big-time player and I’d be doing things here one day. Them just encouraging me to be the best I could be.”

Lincoln, who is now Imhotep’s head coach, said this week that he isn’t surprised at what his former star has done at Maryland.

“The kid’s work ethic has always been there,” Lincoln said.

The leading pass-catcher in the Big Ten for most of the season — he is currently seven receptions ahead of Indiana’s Simmie Cobbs, 21 yards yards ahead of Nebraska’s Stanley Morgan Jr.’s 912 yards and tied with Morgan in touchdown catches with eight — Moore understands the company at Maryland he is keeping.

Advertisement

Aside from having a chance to break Simon’s record, Moore became just the seventh wide receiver in school history to gain more than 200 yards in a game when he caught a career-high 12 passes for 210 yards against Northwestern this season. His 17 career touchdowns is fourth all-time, four behind Jermaine Lewis.

“It would be something I’d definitely look back on, it’ll be like, ‘Wow that’s big,’ because they were all great players here,” Moore said. “Just having my name next to theirs is like an accomplishment to me, knowing that I played the best that I can and got my name next to theirs in the record books.”

Considering that Maryland lost its two top quarterbacks, sophomore Tyrrell Pigrome and freshman Kasim Hill, in the first three games with season-ending ACL injuries, Moore’s performance is almost staggering.

“When you look at it that way, it makes the numbers he’s had even more eye-opening,” second-year coach DJ Durkin said Tuesday. “How many different quarterbacks have been a part of that It usually doesn’t happen that way for a receiver when there is the injury situation we’ve had at quarterback.”

That Maryland has lost six of its last seven games has not dampened Moore’s approach.

“I always look on the bright side of things, how the team has been building over the years and how close we got and the relationships on the team was something that was big,” he said. “Everybody no matter if we won or lost we all stayed together, and that’s something that stuck out to me all year.”

Advertisement

Moore credits his teammates and coaches for helping him enjoy his own accomplishments this season.

“Everybody around the building, they found a way to make me have some joy in what I do, whether it’s breaking records or scoring touchdowns,” Moore said. “They always find a way to like make me laugh about it."

Asked what made him laugh the most, Moore said, “That I can do it all.”

It was referring to when Moore lined up as the punter against Michigan and then used the experience he gained as a punter and kicker in high school to boot a 34-yarder that was nearly recovered by the Terps after appearing to hit off the leg of a Wolverine player.

“It was fun going out there and doing something new,” said Moore, who still holds public high school records in Philadelphia for PATs and points scored.

In that game, Moore also showed something else that might impress pro scouts: his ability never to give up on a play that is going against his team. It came after Michigan nickel back David Long intercepted Maryland quarterback Ryan Brand in the end zone.

Advertisement

Long returned it more than 80 yards to the Maryland 20-yard line before being caught from behind by Moore.

“I’m more of a team player, so when he caught it, I’m like, ‘Somebody got to make the play,’ ” Moore recalled this week. “It was right in front of me, but two people blocked me. I knew probably the fastest player on the field, Taivon [Jacobs] wasn’t going to catch him because he was in the back of the end zone. I said, ‘Somebody’s got to step up. I just chased him down and made the play and gave the defense a chance.”

Comparing Moore to fifth-year senior linebacker Jermaine Carter Jr. for his leadership, Durkin said, “A lot of things I’ve said about Jermaine, DJ you can say the exact same thing. He’s so consistent. He works. Nothing affects him. Doesn’t say much. Doesn’t get up and down. Whether he’s caught 10 passes in a game or caught one, he’s the same guy.”

Carter, one of 19 seniors who will honored before Saturday’s game, compared Moore to Penn State star Saquan Barkley.

“He’s a freak athlete, a freak of nature, there’s nothing on the football field he can’t do,” Carter said Tuesday. “He can catch the ball. He can run the ball. You can put him at running back. He can throw the ball 70 yards. He’s got a gift from God. He’s got a good future ahead of him.”

His decision about the future remains, like Moore himself, a bit elusive.

Advertisement

Maryland (4-7, 2-6) vs. No. 12 Penn State (9-2, 6-2)

When: Saturday, 3:30 p.m.

Where: Maryland Stadium, College Park

Radio: 105.7 FM, 980 AM Also available on Sirius (135) XM (195) TuneIn Radio App

TV: BTN

Series: Penn State leads 37-2-1

Advertisement

What’s At Stake: A chance to silence the thousands of Penn State fans that are expected to descend onto the Maryland campus as well as an opportunity to finish a season marred by the loss of quarterbacks Tyrrell Pigrome and Kasim Hill, as well as linebacker Jesse Aniebonam, on a positive note.

Key Matchup: While most believe teams have to stop Saquan Barkley to beat the Nittany Lions, the biggest issue is keeping quarterback Trace McSorley under control. That the Terps have had problems keeping mobile quarterbacks from hurting them all season doesn’t bode well.

Player to Watch: Still, the player everyone will have their eyes on is Barkley, who after being held in check for three straight weeks accounted for 224 yards and three touchdowns last week against Nebraska. He broke Lydell Mitchell’s career record for touchdowns with 39.

Betting Line: Penn State by 21.


Advertisement