With the knee problems that kept him off the field for 1 ½ years now nearly behind him, senior linebacker Josh Moore is relishing the opportunity to be back on the field in 2005.
After more than a year of being off the field, Moore returned to the team with the arrival of Head Coach Terry Hoeppner, slowly working himself back into shape and back onto the field during the spring. With the start of fall camp, Moore appears ready to go full speed as a member of the No. 1 defensive unit.
"Basically we wanted to get me back slow to make sure I was ready," said Moore, who finished with 68 tackles and four tackles for loss in 2003 before going down with the knee injury. "During spring ball I was working more on the rehab process and we didn't want to slow down the rehab. Now I'm back to almost full strength. I would say I'm at about 80-85 percent now and I'll be ready for the start of the season.
"I did a lot of running and non-impact type of stuff during the summer. I needed to strengthen not only my knee, but also the muscles around it so I could be able to run at full speed."
Moore rejoins a group of experienced linebackers that already boasts the likes of second team All-Big Ten Kyle Killion, Jake Powers and former fullback John Pannozzo, not to mention a strong freshman class that will also be eager to battle for playing time as well.
"We have a lot of competition and a lot of talent at the linebackers," said Moore. "I think it's going to be great for this team to have so many upperclassmen battling for playing time. We'll have a lot of depth coming off the bench during the season and you really don't know how many different guys might get the chance to start at some point in the season. I think that's great to have so much competition in practice."
With his focus on competing for playing time, Moore is keeping his mind off his knee injuries and thanking his teammates and the new coaching staff for giving him the chance to return to the field.
"My knee feels great on the field," said Moore. "I've had a year off to get stronger and go through rehab. Our trainer helped me out tremendously and Coach Hoeppner has been a great support for me early on. It feels great to be back out here.
"I have a great coach and it's just great to be back. Last year I had a little problem and the knee injury, so it feels so good to be back on the field and contributing. There is a great group of guys on this team and you really miss that when you're not playing. You never know when it's supposed to be your last time playing and I'm not supposed to be here. I got a new opportunity and I worked too hard to not come out here and play as hard as I can."
Being back with the team, Moore is focused on getting himself ready to play in an actual game and learning the new defensive scheme put together by co-defensive coordinators Brian George and Joe Palcic.
"I feel like if we execute and keep doing what we're tying to do, we should have a great season," said Moore. "We have to take it one day at a time. I can't say how the season is going to go on the second day of practice. I can't predict what our record is going to be going into the Purdue game. All we can do is worry about camp and work ours butts off.
"I'm working on getting to know my new teammates and this new coaching staff. We're all still working on learning the ins and outs of this new playbook and all we can do is take it day to day."
Moore has not lost the edge he found while playing football and being a squad sergeant at Valley Forge Military Academy and he is proving that to his teammates on the offensive side of the ball. Even in walkthroughs with no pads, Moore's intensity is quickly apparent.
"You have to keep your edge even it is early in training camp," said Moore. "I'm a linebacker. My last coach told me, you have to be the hammer not the nail. I can't let these big linemen push me around. I have to be tough, I'm a linebacker."
Moore Happy To Be Back In 2005
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