Tucked in the middle of Louisiana, there's a town called Winnfield. It has less than 5,000 people, yet has produced three of the state's governors and served as the setting for a Paul Newman movie.
It's where Alonzo Moore calls home.
“I’ll say this, it’s not a big town, but it’s a big heart, it’s got a lot of love in it,” said the Husker sophomore wide receiver. “It’s a supportive town. They supported me before my decision (to come to Nebraska) on to now. I have much respect for them. If I say one thing that I do this for, it’s for my city Winnfield, Louisiana.”
Growing up in Winnfield, Moore didn’t know a thing about the history of Husker football. Actually, he will go a step beyond that.
“To be honest, I’d never heard of this team."
Then one day, a letter came from the state of Nebraska to the town of Winnfield.
“I was like, ‘Mom, Nebraska?’”
Question mark, indeed. Yet the letter did not go into the trash. Not at all. Moore was intrigued enough that he looked into signing up for a Husker football camp.
This is where he breaks into a smile, because the recruiting story that follows is just flat funny.
“I actually signed up for the camp, but it was a quarterback camp, and I thought it was an all-position camp. I showed up and I’m like, ‘Why all these quarterbacks? Everybody got a ball.’ So I’m, like, ‘Oh, I did signed up for the wrong camp.’”
Moore had traveled with his mentor to Lincoln for the camp.
“I immediately told him, ‘We got to go, we got to leave, this is not a camp for me,’” Moore said. “But I just sat there and thought, ‘You know what? I’ll just do it.' And after the first day, I didn’t regret it as much, but I was kind of mad because my arm, my biceps, were killing me.”
He left feeling sore. He also left having gained Nebraska coaches’ attention.
Whether he’s moving around as a quarterback, wide receiver or cornerback, anyone walking down the street can identify Moore as the kind of athlete you find a place for on your team.
There is a reason, prior to last season, why offensive coordinator Tim Beck used the word “electrifying” to describe Moore with the ball in his hands.
Beck doesn’t back away from that word now. “No question. No question he can be.”
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When the 6-foot-2, 195-pound Moore arrived in Lincoln for a more permanent stay, he thought coaches might start him off as a cornerback. He instead found himself running routes and not covering them on the scout team.
“I just played my role for that and just made plays,” Moore said.
He doesn't question it. Receiver feels right. And so does he after missing the spring because of shoulder surgery.
Moore actually suffered the injury the first week of fall camp last year. He played through it, dipping his toes into the water by catching six passes for 75 yards.
The toughest part was blocking. “I never in my life thought I would have to block,” he said. It’s even harder with a bum shoulder, trying to get your hands up and steer a guy.
And yet Moore’s best moment as a Husker so far came doing just that, locking down a Michigan defensive back to help Ameer Abdullah leap into the end zone for the game winner.
“That was probably the best moment in my life.”
Some guys are good at football and play it only because of that. Moore really loves the game.
It’s evident as he describes the first practice of spring, the one he had to watch from the sidelines.
“I kind of shed a couple tears before it because I really wanted to be out there and play football, and this was my first time sitting out so long. So it was really bothering me to where I was thinking too much or I just got down in myself,” he said. “But I just kept my faith in the Lord and talked to my parents and overcame it.”
Now fully healthy, Moore is a man worth focusing on this fall in what he sees as a loaded position group.
“To me, in my eyes, it’s probably the best receiving corps. I love them to death. We’re all playing fast. We all know what we’re doing. We’re all one unit,” he said. “It’s amazing. Kenny Bell can go out and then we got more guys to fill in that are just as fast and make plays just like him."
And clearly, Husker coaches are hopeful Moore is on the brink of taking off. Beck said coaches are going to throw even more reps at him after his lost spring.
“We’re trying to work on him mentally as much as anything to get him caught up on the 14 days of football he missed,” Beck said.
Moore is eager to take it on. “I got to go 100 percent." Less than that wouldn't do. Because those Saturdays in the fall are about more than himself.
They’re for that town with the big heart.