South Xtra: Brentwood grad could provide an answer for Dukes
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Akeem Moore could be the answer for a Duquesne team that has a huge question mark at the wide receiver position.
But there is a question Moore has been asked often the past nine months: "How are you feeling?"
Moore, a fifth-year senior who graduated from Brentwood High School, shrugged and grinned widely before he repeated the words he's said so many times:, "Yes, I'm good ... my fingers are crossed."
Moore, who has missed most of two seasons with injuries, underwent knee surgery on his left knee in November and sat out this spring and is participating only in non-contact drills at fall camp.
If he's healthy, Moore is a fleet wideout who could provide the Dukes with a much-needed deep threat. Although his playing time has been severely limited because of injuries, he still is Duquesne's top returning receiver with 29 career catches for 425 yards and two touchdowns.
After starting at defensive back as a freshman, Moore switched to receiver as a sophomore but suffered internal injuries on the third play against Nicholls State in the season's second game and was lost for the remainder of the season.
He came back as a junior and had 22 catches for 322 yards and two touchdowns despite missing three games with injuries. He played just three games as a redshirt junior in 2011 before a season-ending knee injury.
"I never let myself get down [after each injury]," said Moore, who is on course to earn a degree in sports management in December. "Doubts? I never ... never had them. I knew it wasn't the end of the world and I knew I had to work hard to get back. It's been a rocky road, with a lot of ups and downs. It's been a wild ride so far."
Moore said he started his college career on defense when the coaches asked him to play there, but offense always has been his first love.
"I knew I was going back to offense," said Moore, a 6-foot-1, 205-pounder. "My running, cutting and jumping are back to where I left off, but I haven't taken a hit since the surgery."
Asked if he still catches the ball like always, Moore grinned broadly and said, "You don't lose the hands. They have always been there ... they always will be."
Moore hasn't set a timetable for his return to full-scale practice, but he said, "My first goal is to start hitting game week and play in the opener. I'm anxious, but I'm more excited. It was hard last year watching your team be successful without you being out there with them."
The Dukes, who return a solid nucleus of starters from a 9-2 team that was co-champion of the Northeast Conference, were picked to finish second in a preseason poll of the league's nine coaches.
Moore displayed the scars on his left knee and talked about the strenuous rehabilitation he's done over the summer to prepare for the 2012 season.
"I believe in it," he said. "After the first two months following the surgery I was in a lot of pain and on crutches, but then I started to walk again and that gave me hope. I'm not worried about staying healthy. I've gained some weight and put on a couple pounds, great pounds of more meat to sustain my knees.
"I just want to let loose and stay healthy week by week."
If he can do that, the question about his health will finally stop.
First Published August 16, 2012 12:00 am