ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Record-setting ex-Lobo is playing with IFL’s New Mexico team
Almost 10 years ago, DonTrell Moore broke into the Albuquerque football scene in grand fashion by rushing for 1,134 yards and 15 touchdowns for the University of New Mexico and leading the Lobos to their second bowl game in 41 years.
At the time, the then-redshirt freshman from Roswell said, “I’m just riding till the wheels come off.”
Those wheels took him to 4,973 ground yards at UNM, a total that remains a Mountain West Conference record. He also scored 56 touchdowns.
Fast forwarding to 2012, it appears Moore, 29, still has plenty of football tread left as he makes his metro-area return in shoulder pads.
Next Sunday, he is scheduled to be in the starting eight-man lineup at running back for the expansion New Mexico Stars in their Indoor Football League opener against the Colorado Ice at the Santa Ana Star Center.
Not bad for someone who hasn’t played in about 20 months.
Moore was the first player recruited by Stars owner/general manager Dart Clark.
“I got a phone call from Dart in October and he said, ‘Hey, this is what I’ve got going. Can we sit down and have lunch?’
“I was definitely excited about it, but my only thing was I wanted to still work (my full-time job). I take that seriously. But I wanted to help this team get going. … It sounded exciting, and I wanted to be on board and contribute.”
When not on the field, Moore is a youth program officer for Albuquerque’s Juvenile Detention Center, where he has worked the past three years and has put to good use his double major of sociology and criminology.
“There’s no typical day here,” Moore said of his work with kids ages 11-17. “We’re trained to do a lot – from defusing fights, keeping people from harming themselves, going to the gym, coordinating activities. … These kids are in trouble and still have a chance to be reintroduced into society. That’s why it’s pretty cool to work here.”
As for Moore perhaps being rusty, Clark says he hasn’t seen that in the 5-foot-10, 205-pounder during training camp, which began last Sunday.
“DonTrell has experience, and you can tell,” he said. “He has a unique ability; he’s really talented. And he has really good hands.
“For his age, and the fact he hasn’t played in a while, he’s doing great.”
This is the same league that just attracted famed wide receiver Terrell Owens to play this year for the Allen Wranglers and also made an overture to former Vikings and Patriots star WR Randy Moss. In 2004-05, the league proved to be a steppingstone for current Buffalo Bills standout RB Fred Jackson, who played for the Sioux City Bandits.
Said Clark of his squad: “My biggest thing was to make sure we didn’t have a bunch of semi-pro guys out here who just decided on Sunday afternoon they were going to come out and play football. We go out to Division I universities, the NFL. We look high and low for the right kind of guys.”
Moore is well-versed in IFL competition on fields that are 50 yards long, 28 yards wide and bordered by foam-padded dasher boards roughly 4 feet high. In 2010, he played 12 games for the Amarillo Vipers. He tied for the team lead in TDs with 15 and averaged 5.7 yards per carry.
“Everything happens quicker here,” said Moore, comparing the IFL to the NFL, in which the undrafted free agent had unsuccessful tryouts with the Jets, Titans and Buccaneers. “You have less time to make your moves and make cuts – you have a split second. Plus the field is cut in half.
“Also, in the NFL, the playbooks were like novels, and we’d get seven or eight new plays a night we had to learn for the next morning. The IFL’s playbook is not very big at all.”
Although the Amarillo team asked Moore to return last season, he declined.
“I had just bought a house here and had financial responsibilities,” Moore said.
He also might be one of the few players on the Stars not pining to make the leap to the NFL or Canadian Football League.
“I’m not actively pursuing that,” Moore said. “I do enjoy playing the game at a high level, but it’s whatever God has planned for my life.”
— This article appeared on page D1 of the Albuquerque Journal