Paying it forward

After his freshman season in 2008, BYU linebacker Spencer Hadley served in the California Roseville Mission. During his mission, he had a lasting impact on another football player.

Near Sacramento in a city called Citrus Heights, Elder Spencer Hadley was attending church one Sunday when a large young man by the name of Denesheo Moore walked through the front door.

"I walked into the building at the same time a sacrament meeting was being held," recalled the 19-year-old Moore. "The doors were closed but I walked in, so the missionaries got up and took me out and started talking to me. I told the two missionaries how I found the church, and one of those missionaries happened to be Spencer Hadley.

"I didn't know who he was at the time because I had never heard of BYU. He took me to the classes and the other elder asked me if I played football. I told him that I did and he pointed to his companion and said, ‘Oh, well he's a linebacker for BYU.' I didn't know what BYU was, so I didn't really care at that time."

Moore wanted to learn more about the LDS faith because of his friends, who happened to be members.

"I was talking to my best friend Aaron and his girlfriend Linda, and a 17-year-old boy and a 15-year-old girl answered my questions that a pastor couldn't answer," recalled Moore. "They were just basic questions like, ‘Where is the prophet and where are his Twelve Apostles?' I was always thinking that God was the same yesterday, today and forever. Than where are those people? I had those questions since I was young, but I don't know why. I asked my friends those questions and they told me about how in their church those people are present today."

So his quest for spiritual understanding took a major turn the day he discussed the gospel with his friends.

"At the end of that day I read the gospel principles manual," recalled Moore. "I read that in two days, and the day after that was Sunday. That Sunday I began to search what church I would go to, and it ended up being a church down the street from me."

And thus Moore met Elder Hadley.

"Elder Hadley was a prototypical missionary and he taught by the Spirit," reflected Moore. "I know for a fact he prays over who he taught because during his lessons he covered exactly what I was going to ask. He taught me a lesson or two before handing me over to the other missionaries in my ward. I was actually in a different ward, and so the missionaries in my ward finished up teaching me."

Moore was impressed with the Cougar linebacker who had set aside football and his education for two years just to teach the gospel to him and others.

"He never down-talked anyone or other churches and he wasn't arrogant or prideful," said Moore. "He didn't talk about being a linebacker for BYU. I found out about that and his high school records and his 3.9 GPA from someone else. He told me that BYU was the LDS church school."

Eventually, Moore started becoming more curious about BYU.

"I think it was a few weeks later, it was Thanksgiving and we were playing in a Turkey Bowl," said Moore with a laugh. "Elder Hadley was there and he was wearing a BYU Under Armor shirt, so I asked him more about the school.

"The other missionaries asked me what school I liked, and I said USC. We were talking about USC and they told me, ‘You have to become a BYU fan if you're to become Mormon.' I just laughed it off until they told me that BYU was our church school and that it was a private university that promotes higher education as well as our standards. I just thought that was really cool."

Moore continued with his missionary lessons. Elder Hadley taught him two lessons before handing him over to the elders in Moore's area. It wasn't long before he joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and Elder Hadley spoke at his baptism.

As for football, Moore was a two-way player for San Juan High School, a small 6A school in Citrus Heights, California.

"I'm 6'3", 320 pounds and I bench 350 pounds and squat 450 pounds," Moore said. "My high school football program didn't really work out that much, so I just worked out whenever I could. I've never really had a gym membership or anything like that, so when I get that set, my strength is going to skyrocket.

"When I was playing in high school, I was playing at 327, but I ran a 5.09 forty, but I know I can slim down a bunch and that's what I'm working on now. I know for a fact that I can get my forty time down as well ... [In high school] I played left tackle on the offensive line and defensive tackle on the defensive line. I also played nose guard sometimes in the 3-4 defense."

Now that Moore has joined the LDS faith, he will follow in Hadley's footsteps.

"I leave to serve my mission to the Mexico Pueblo Mission on September 26th," said Moore. "I'm really excited to go out and learn a new language and teach people about the gospel. I'll be able to see the first three [BYU] games [next season]. I leave two days before the Boise State game and I'm excited to see [Hadley] play before I take his place out there in the mission field. Now it's my turn to go out and serve."

And when he returns home, Moore hopes to follow Hadley in another way as well. He wants to play football for BYU.

"Well, I love football and I love our church," said Moore. "I could play a sport where I could express my views and follow my beliefs freely, and BYU has all of that. BYU is a college that is competitive in sports and I want to be a part of that. They compete every year and that's what I like.

"I haven't spoken to Coach DuPaix or anyone from the football program yet," Moore said. "I have spoken to Mark Robertson, the track coach, and we've talked a few times and he's the only one I've spoken to at BYU besides Spencer Hadley.

"I just want to get accepted into BYU, if anyone can help [me] get accepted. I am hoping to one day play for BYU. I don't expect any scholarship offers, but if I do get one, then that's great. If not, I'll do all that I can to try and become a part of that university. If I have to walk on, I'll do it, but I'm going to try anyway I can. I'm waiting on my ACT to return so I can submit my application."

Needles to say, Moore has switched football allegiances.

"Oh yeah, I'm a diehard BYU fan!" Moore said. "It's amazing how big of a turnaround I've made from being a USC fan to being a diehard BYU fan. When I found out about BYU, I learned everything about BYU and know everything about the football program. I saw Spencer play last year but he was coming out on the field in place of Brandon Ogletree for mop-up duties. This year he should see more playing time on the field and I'm excited. That's my goal when I get back from serving my mission. Like I said, I'm a diehard BYU fan."

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