Oct. 22, 2010
BY ANDREW LENTZ
UT Media Relations
Being compared to an NFL wide receiver who is widely considered to be one of the greatest of all-time and ranks third in career receptions is quite the compliment, no matter the circumstance.
But as senior wide receiver Denarius Moore takes a talented crop of freshmen wide outs under his wing, assistant head coach in charge of wide receivers Charlie Baggett likens it to a situation he previously experienced in one of his five NFL stints.
"I kind of relate it to the way Cris Carter took Randy Moss under his arms in the National Football League," Baggett said. "It's just invaluable what a guy like him can do for a freshman. These guys look at the 100,000 people in the stands and what they have to do and how they're going to do it. Then, they see the playbook and the thickness of it and what they have to learn.
"It's daunting for a freshman to have to deal with all of those things and a guy like Denarius has really helped them through those situations, so it's good to see."
Hard Work Speaks for Itself
Moore, who is the Vols leading receiver through six games, has a different style of leadership. While some players lead vocally, the Tatum, Texas, native has a knack for letting his hard work speak for itself.
"Denarius is a little bit different because he's kind of quiet," Baggett said. "He's not a real outspoken type guy but he's the kind of kid that works his tail off and has the respect of his teammates. I think when he says something, they take it to heart. I think his leadership skills are good; they're just different because he's not one of those vocal types. He's the kind that sets an example by doing. I'm very pleased to have him."
Moore's approach meshes well with fellow senior receiver Gerald Jones, who is a more vocal leader. However, when Jones suffered a hand injury in the Vols' season opener against UT Martin, Moore knew he had to step up. And not only with his play.
"Normally, I'm the type that doesn't say much," Moore said. "But once he went down, I had to take a role in speaking more on the field, in the meeting room and things like that. When you're a leader, you have to be able to adjust the way you lead based on different situations."
While he is the Vols active leader in touchdowns, personal accolades don't appeal to the standout receiver. The criminal justice major, who experienced UT's run to the SEC Championship game as a freshman, is well aware that team success far outweighs anything that can be accomplished individually and is trying to convey that message to his freshman counterparts.
"I try to teach them to work hard every day and that we're a band of brothers," Moore said. "You have to realize this is a team and that we're all in it together. It's not about stars or rankings; it's about working as one unit and winning. Nothing is more important than winning."
Big Plays from Soft-Spoken Ways
Very much like Moore off the field in his soft-spoken way and on the field with big-play capability, freshman wide receiver Justin Hunter is just one of the wide outs who has benefited from Moore's mentorship.
"Denarius is like a big brother to me and a guy that I look up to," Hunter said. "He's taught me a lot about what it means to be a Volunteer and how to fit in with my role on the team."
The younger wide receivers aren't the only ones taking advantage of Moore's guidance. While junior quarterback Matt Simms is the one passing the ball to Moore on the field, the senior has done his best to pass his knowledge back in exchange.
"Denarius has been an awesome friend to me since the first day I stepped on campus," Simms said. "He's one of those seniors that I really look up to as far as what we need to get done and what I look forward to being as a senior next year. He's a great football player and I truly enjoy playing with him."
Moore's hard work led to one of the Vols' most memorable plays in 2010 when he hauled in the game-winning touchdown catch versus UAB in double overtime.
Just as he has carried the younger Vols on his shoulders all season, it was fitting that his teammates were able to return the favor.