From Nietzsche to Stand-Up Comedy

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- One reads the German philosopher Nietzsche when he wants to decompress from football, about life-affirmation, the individual persevering through struggle, the other dabbles in stand-up comedy -- really, like at clubs back home -- to lighten the mood.

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- One reads the German philosopher Nietzsche when he wants to decompress from football, about life-affirmation, the individual persevering through struggle, the other dabbles in stand-up comedy -- really, like at clubs back home -- to lighten the mood.

Maryland’s top two prospects at offensive center, senior Evan Mulrooney and redshirt freshman Brendan Moore, couldn’t be more different on some levels, or the same on others.

Mulrooney is from perhaps the nation’s smallest football state, Delaware (The "Small Wonder" state, after all), Moore perhaps the biggest -- Texas.

Mulrooney is a grizzled grinder (see his new camp beard), a fifth-year senior who has moved positions and sides of the ball over the years, and is a guy who gets by more on smarts and guile than athleticism.

Moore is an upstart, a jumbo athlete, perhaps Maryland’s most athletic offensive lineman. And one with a bigger and better pedigree, yet one ramping up quickly intellectually, too. So fast that he edged past Mulrooney last week for the top spot, a spot the latter held at the end of spring at the all-important thinking-man’s position, in the middle making all the calls.

But transcending all, perhaps, is the fact both are deep thinkers, charismatic, witty, and ringleaders of their respective peer groups be it young or old.

This summer, Mulrooney led some of his offensive linemen and teammates (Stephen Grommer, Andrew Zeller and others) on a series of some five weekend tours of the Smithsonian Institution and other Washington, D.C., arts and cultural hubs, pushing their horizons in ways they never imagined. Especially poignant was the group’s trip to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, which stunned them.

“The Holocaust museum, that really bogged us down. That was super-sad. Maybe we were in a melancholy mood, but we walked out of there feeling so bad,” Mulrooney said. “But it taught us much.”

Then there’s Moore, who is precocious, well-beyond his years. Moore loves debating with teammates on all subjects, be it politics or prose. After the madness of football camp and two-a-days, the stifling heat and screaming coaches, he reclines in his dorm room with the classic philosophers for his own version of escapism. He is one of the more well-spoken, inquisitive Terps, yet just a callow freshman.

“I have a love of a lot of things other than football,” Moore said, while admitting a love for the weight room too, because it relates to the body/physiology, which also intrigues him deeply. “But I like to make my mind better too. My camp book is Nietzsche, who is an amazing philosopher and who can get your mind off of things in camp like when all the pressure is coming down on you, everything is coming at you at a fast pace as just a freshman. And it’s good to go back to some of the people who have dealt with pressure like Nietzsche and Aristotle, you know, two amazing minds from the past.”

Wow. Talk about cerebral, amidst all the angst and heat and pressures of August camp, when the mind and body can be pushed to the limits, the extremes. Not quite Marlow trekking down the Congo in search of the elusive Kurtz, but Moore talks of his own quest to probe, conquer the unknown, be it football or beyond.

Testing the limits of the mind and body, he drills down deep in this interview one day at, simply, football camp. But in a way, it is his own microcosm of bigger things to ponder as he bounds through life's ups and downs, all 6-foot-3, 300-pounds of him, in this test and affirmation of his own. One gets the sense he could go on all afternoon, barely scratching football.

Now, on to more pedestrian football matters. Last week, Moore moved up to No. 1 center, and if he can continue to master the calls, quarterback exchanges and find his rhythm with the rest of the burgeoning group, he represents the future at the position. If he falters, the experienced Mulrooney is right there, and he has played both center and guard in the past, sometimes as a starter.

Both have a great mutual-respect-society going for one-another, the pupil and mentor, despite the youngster perhaps lapping the elder here soon.

“Right now I am first team, and I am working my hardest. But competition is a strong word….Evan is a fifth-year senior and an amazing technician and I hope I can learn all the things he has to offer for me going forward,” the magnanimous Moore said.

Moore had his ups and downs in the first week of fall camp after a learning spring, and has begun to master the mental side of things. Mind you, he is still just a redshirt freshman, but possibly one of three that could start up front for the Terps this fall.

“When I first got here, it was more raw aggression than anything else,” Moore related. “And really, I need to remember my technique. And that aggression and being a technician are not mutually exclusive. You need to be able to think when you are mad, you need to be able to think when you are in intense situations, and having a great role model at center like Evan, and having a coach like Coach [Greg Studrawa] ‘Stud,’ who is a perfect example of both aggression and technician."

Said Randy Edsall after the 10th day of practice this month of the battles inside:

“Well, Brendan is running with the ones right now. And again, it’s just a matter of seeing if he can do the things there that we need. And you’ve got to be able to knock people off the ball at center, make all the calls, be good with the snaps. So again, it’s a good competition there right now, and the one thing is at least I know we got two guys who can play the position.”

Moore has leaned on Mulrooney ever since he’s been here for the more subtle tricks of the trade, both physical and mental.

“He is very calm and very collected, and he does a great job of staying very cool under pressure, and that is something I can learn a lot from,” Moore said of his senior brother-in-arm. “But he is a great speaker, he keeps the morale up in the O-Line room, and I can’t count how many times he has had the whole room cracking up.”

Mulrooney, who has "leaned-up" to a svelte 300 pounds, and appears to have one of the better outlooks for a non-starting fifth-year senior, loves working with and mentoring his understudy. Mulrooney used to be quite the character, the cut-up, but now has tempered that over the years to, surprisingly, one of the team's more subtle leaders, in his own inimitable way.

“I just love competing with the guy. He is a competitor, a hell of an athlete, really strong, a great guy,” Mulrooney said of Moore. “I just love the competition and it is just making us better. But when it gets down to it, really if they choose, I think it’s going to be a good call because Brendan’s a real smart center, which is one of the most important things. And on top of that, he is super-athletic. He’s got feet like no one’s business, and he’s strong, aggressive, real mean out on the field. And I think he is going to be a real good center here at Maryland.”

Mulrooney brings that steady senior experience, if needed, while he knows how to push all the right buttons from a leadership standpoint with all the linemen. There have been ups and downs this camp, but this week has been better as far as cohesion and rhythm.

"But I am going to do my darndest to make sure that every single rep they are going to give their best,” Mulrooney added.

Moore is proud of his work in the weight room, too (getting back to his study of the body and how it works, the limits it can be pushed), adding some 50 pounds on his bench, squat and power-clean, while topping 300 pounds body weight for the first time. He arrived at 265 pounds. His current bench press is 405 pounds, and he’s now up to 540 in the squat.

Meanwhile, Moore worked an internship, in security for CSC with some of that extra beef, at local concerts and professional sports games like the Washington Nationals this summer. The cerebral Moore is a double major in marketing and supply chain management.

“It was more concerts and events, but you still get to watch and learn the business side from the ground up,” Moore said of his summer duties as an intern always looking for an edge.

Mulrooney also spoke of his future calling:

“I did some open-mike nights this summer in Philadelphia. I know a couple guys on the comedy scene in Philly. My shtick? Football, it’s easy. Big, fat stupid idiots [laugh]. I have an easy out with football, a lot of self-deprecation stuff, making fun of football because there are a lot of absurdities that go along with the sport itself.”

Mulrooney, who graduated last spring in american studies and communications, is taking acting classes this fall as he charts his future after football. And it's little surprise he will remain at the center of things.

“So I am going to start with that, and then once I get my rhythm down and my stage presence and my deliveries and stuff, I want to expand it as much as I can,” said Mulrooney with that impish smile he's had for years now at College Park, always keeping you on your toes, not knowing what to expect next from the Terp on his own quixotic quest.

Note: Moore -- on a day his right palm was stained a bright red, all from the dye that had run off so many footballs he had snapped working his craft -- also commented on the quarterback competition during the interview.

“Caleb [Rowe] has proven himself with us before, Daxx [Garman] at Oklahoma State,” Moore said. “And Perry [Hills] has proven himself here a couple years ago. So all three are good quarterbacks, all three are capable quarterbacks, and it really just depends on which one shows up more than the other and which one [OC Mike] Locksley thinks is the best fit.”

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