In Texas, high school football is more than just a game, it's a way of life.
Talented football players are a dime a dozen in the Lone Star state, but talent will only get you so far. Find a player with the talent, the drive and the brains? Then you have yourself something special.
That is exactly what Maryland got when Austin (Texas) Westwood High offensive lineman Brendan Moore verbally committed last week.
And no one would know better then Moore's own coach, Anthony Wood.
"He is a rare find in my opinion. He has a high football IQ, he is very athletic, he has size, he has strength and he knows how to finish blocks," Wood said. "Usually you can find two-out-of-three of those, but to find a guy, especially an offensive lineman, who can do all three? That is pretty special. "
There is something else about Moore, dare I say, a Tebow-esque quality.
"I have been around a lot of college athletes and Brendan just has that "it" factor," Wood said. "You tend to see it a lot in skill positions like quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers. But to see it in Brendan as an offensive lineman and at his age, I mean it's really rare. "
Moore developed those rare skills at an early age. After all, he comes from a family well acquainted with the sports world, and nearly all of his family members were Division I athletes. Moore's grandfather was a running back at Oregon and coached football in Hawaii, and his uncle played in the Ivy League at Columbia University. Moore's family has not only helped mold him into the player he is today, but also the person.
"Brendan comes from a special family. His mom, Lana, is an incredible lady who raised Brendan and did a wonderful job," Wood said. "It has made our job so much easier because we didn't have teach Brendan things like work ethic, character or how to treat people… He is the kind of kid that as a father you would let date your daughter."
While Wood recognized Moore's qualities early on during his high school career, the 6-foot-4, 270-pound lineman nearly missed out on his chance at playing for a BCS program. Wood said Moore, unlike many ultra-talented recruits, never fathomed that he'd be playing at the highest levels of college football.
"Its funny Brendan never really realized how special he was and he never in his wildest dreams thought anyone would've offered him a scholarship to play college football," Wood said. "It was probably a month before Maryland offered that he and his mom went up to Yale. He was thinking about going to school there and hopefully play on their football team.
"I kept telling him, ‘Brendan you don't understand how good you are, just hang in there. There are going to be a ton of schools that really want you. ‘
"Then finally when all the offers started coming in, we just kind of laughed and he kept saying, ‘Coach you were right how did you know and I told him well I have been doing this for quite a while, and you just don't see guys as good as you come around too often."
Moore attracted over a dozen offers during the evaluation period, and he struggled to narrow down his list. However, once summer rolled around, Moore had the chance to visit a number of schools, including Maryland.
"We talked about it before, he did not really want to drag out the process, and once he visited Maryland he called me up and said, ‘Coach I found the school I want to go,'" Wood said. "So he made the decision, called the Maryland coaches and then got on the phone and thanked all the other coaches for recruiting him and he let them know he was going to Maryland."
Last season, Moore helped Westwood to a 9-4 record and the 2012 area championship. The Warriors made it to the third round of the state championships before falling to the eventual champions, Allen High School (yes, that is the Texas high school with a $60 million football stadium).
"We have been pretty successful and a lot of that has to do with Brendan," Wood said. "We also have quarterback, who is already committed to Houston and we had three Division I players last year. So we have been pretty fortunate and blessed to have some good players play for us."
And soon, one of Wood's finest will be heading to College Park. So, where exactly Will Moore fit in when he does arrive?
"He is so smart I think he can fit in anywhere. I think he can be a great guard or center in college, and I think if he needs to play tackle he could too because of his football IQ," Wood said. "He might not have the reach of your typical tackle but his knowledge of the game can help make up for that."
And Wood thinks Moore is just merely beginning to hit his stride.
"The kid just turned 17 years old and I still don't think he has had to shave yet," Wood said. "He is a kid who has a ton of room to grow. I mean he has a size 16 foot. So it would not surprise me if when he leaves Maryland if he is 6'6.
"[But] I think even if Brendan doesn't grow another inch, he will still be a great contributor at Maryland and play at the next level if he chooses."
Moore is the eighth commit in Maryland's 2014 class. He joins the tri-state trio of General McLane defensive end Brett Kulka, Spring Grove defensive tackle David Shaw and Coatesville High linebacker Tyler Burke, along with St. John's Prep (Mass.) running back Johnathan Thomas and a pair of local prospects, St. John's College High quarterback Will Ulmer and McDonogh offensive lineman Jared Cohen.
Coach Speak: Brendan Moore's Coach Chimes In
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