Dre Moore was a “list guy,” Maryland football coach Ralph Friedgen’s unaffectionate term for players who run afoul of his many rules, spanning everything from class attendance to wearing the wrong color shorts to a lifting session. Collectively, they land on a list delivered each day to Friedgen, and Moore was a fixture.
On it went, the athletic defensive tackle hardly far from his coach’s mind for all the wrong reasons. When Moore wasn’t aggravating Friedgen with his off-field transgressions, he was giving sporadic effort during practice and games.
Finally, a vexed Friedgen sat down with the junior on the eve of fall practice in August.
“I told him it’s not just good to have your name up in the weight room — it’d be nice to have your name on the stadium,” said Friedgen, referring to the All-America placards on Byrd Stadium’s upper deck facade. “You’ve got to get in the game to do that. Unless you start playing hard when it gets tough, you’re not going to get in the game.”
Moore listened, becoming Maryland’s most reliable presence on the defensive line and rolling up 71/2 tackles for loss for the No. 21 Terrapins.
His improvement coincided with the gradual revitalization of the Terps’ defense, a unit routinely gashed early in the season for big plays that tightened up as Maryland (8-2, 5-1 ACC) reeled off five straight victories to earn a share of the Atlantic Division lead entering Saturday’s game at No. 20 Boston College (8-2, 4-2).
“I knew from playing scout team and one-on-ones I had the ability to do something special, do something different, but I never put the extra little bit into it to make it happen,” Moore said. “I was relying on my athleticism to get me through things. When I started realizing I could be something special and put that effort behind it, that’s when I started to stand out a little more.”
The Terps never doubted Moore’s athleticism. He played only two years of football in high school in Charlotte, N.C., and arrived on campus in 2003 as a long-term project who caught teammates’ attention for his physical — if not technical — dominance.
A 6-foot-4, 312-pounder whose 40-yard time is just more than 4.8 seconds will do that, even in a program that has sent Kris Jenkins and Randy Starks to the NFL in the last decade.
“I’ve never seen a big athlete like Dre Moore,” director of strength and conditioning Dwight Galt said. “I’ve never seen anybody have the strength, the explosion and the speed at the size that he’s at.”
But talent meant nothing so long as Moore didn’t accelerate his maturation process. He was a regular on Friedgen’s list, and a visitor to the coach’s office for one-on-one talks. Friedgen made several calls to Moore’s parents, and threatened to revoke his complimentary tickets.
And then there was Friedgen’s punishment of choice.
“I ran a whole, whole lot after practice on many a night,” Moore said. “It was just a part of the growing-up process.”
There were hints Moore was completing that process the end of last season, when he moved into the starting lineup for the final three games. It has continued throughout his first full year as a starter, including an eight-tackle performance in Saturday’s victory over Miami.
He also has vanished from Friedgen’s daily list. Yet Moore still tweaks his coach on occasion, if only to elicit a reaction.