Tahlequah Daily Press


September 14, 2012

Cowboys look to Moore for leadership, production

STILLWATER — Tracy Moore wants to be the next great Oklahoma State receiver, following the likes of first-round NFL draft picks Justin Blackmon and Dez Bryant.

His coaches want him to understand that there's more to the job than just catching passes and scoring touchdowns.

Coach Mike Gundy and offensive coordinator Todd Monken both met with Moore after he caught four touchdown passes in Oklahoma State's 59-38 loss at Arizona last week, discussing what he can do beyond producing on the field.

"He's a good player, he's a good kid, he's a good looking guy, he's charismatic. He has all the things you'd want in a leader," Monken said. "But that doesn't mean you can lead. Just because you have all those things doesn't mean you can lead the right way. He's going to lead. It's just which way."

Moore had three run-ins with police this offseason, resulting in his suspension for the season opener against Savannah State. Once he was back, he put up big numbers in his season debut with eight catches for 106 yards.

His four-touchdown performance matched the best of Bryant's career, and he only did it once. Blackmon, a two-time All-American and two-time Biletnikoff Award winner, never did it.

"If you're one of the better players on the team, you automatically get that chance (to lead) because people and kids that are in society today see good players as role models. They don't make the decision based on other things like we do," Gundy said.

While Moore has been solid in games, his issues have come elsewhere. He got benched for the Fiesta Bowl last season because of practice issues, and Gundy said he's been known to run his mouth from time to time.

"Does he qualify in a lot of areas that we as parents would want him to? No. Does he qualify to help us lead out here on the football field? Yes," Gundy said. "That doesn't make him a well-rounded leader. Hopefully that'll help him in the long run in the other areas."

Both Gundy and Monken believe Moore has made progress since he was forced to sit out the bowl game, to the point that he even approached Monken to talk about leadership on Monday morning. Monken issued him a challenge.

"Tracy's got a little willpower. He just does," Monken said. "Tracy likes having fun, he likes going out. So do I. That's great. But then don't say you want to be something that you're not. Just say, 'That's what I am. I'm a hard-driving guy, I'm not a leader, I'm all about me. I like going out and having a good time and screwing stuff up. That's just me.' Just say that.

"But if you want to be something different, then you've got to change."

At least at the receiver position, Moore is a natural to be the leader. He's the top returning pass-catcher after both Blackmon and Josh Cooper left last season and he's one of only two seniors, the other being the quieter Isaiah Anderson. Charlie Moore, Josh Stewart, freshman Blake Jackson and others don't have the experience that Moore does.

In his eyes, he's just been waiting for his opportunity to follow Blackmon in the spotlight. Two years ago, Blackmon emerged after Bryant left for the NFL and became a sudden star. He opted to return last season instead of entering the NFL draft, delaying Tracy Moore's time to be the No. 1 receiver.

"I've definitely been wanting to do that, since he did it his first year. I was kind of hoping he'd have left so I could do it then," Tracy Moore said. "Now it's my chance, just like it's Isaiah's, just like it's Charlie's and everybody else's, I feel like it's my chance now."

He tried to take positive steps in the offseason, gaining size and strength and spending time studying with Oklahoma State's defensive players so he'd better understand what he was up against.

In his first outing, he produced the third 100-yard receiving game of his career. One of the others came last season against Louisiana-Lafayette (2-0), the Cowboys' opponent on Saturday.

Now, his coaches want him to elevate the play of those around him.

"Leaders bring people with you. That means that you have to do things the right way on and off the field," Monken said. "You have to smile, you have to compete, you have to push yourself. You can't be tired and 'today I just don't feel like it.'"

Monken said he'd like to see his top receiver celebrate his touchdowns by finding his offensive linemen and quarterback to say thanks, and not trying to find the nearest television camera.

"He's getting better," Gundy said. "He's rough around the edges at times. Tracy and I have gone through a lot here. If I didn't think he was a good kid, he wouldn't be here."

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