Lawrence "Moe" Dampeer - DT - 6-3.5, 280, 4.8/40 - Decatur, Illinois (Macarthur) - There is something to be said when someone says your special, but in the world of athletics, it's often so overused, it's become cliche'. So, for those players that truly do strike a cord and almost define that word both on and off the field, their true individuality can be lost. Though you might simply glance at Lawrence's numbers and say, yeah, that kid is special, you've understated not just the player, but the person. What this young man has is what all teams covet, talent, determination and a perspective generally rare in players this touted. Lawrence Dampeer is certainly special indeed.
"Big Moe" comes from the "Land of Lincoln" and in that land, no defensive tackles stands taller. Gaining All-State honors last year, Moe tallied 113 tackles and 12 ½ sacks. From the interior of the D-line, that's impressive, but Dampeer attributes his speed as his strength in being able to make things happen. "Speed, speed, speed" Dampeer stated. "That's my game. A guy one on one with me, if he's going to bullrush, it's going to be a stalemate. But, I guarantee that if you tell me to get to the quarterback, give me three or three and a half seconds and I will have him."
Lawrence also states that another key reason to his game isn't his ability, but what he gives not just on the field, but off. "My game is speed, heart and determination", Dampeer stated. "Right now, I am getting stronger. I am benching 225, three sets of ten times and I am hitting it hard. I am getting up at 7:30 every morning and running two miles and that is on a half-broken foot." And why does Moe push himself so hard. "I have to be ready, because if I am not ready to play by August, there's no need to play at all."
Dampeer's dedication to the game is obvious. He tortures himself daily so that he can better his physical prowess and doesn't ask for favors and doesn't expect any concessions. In fact, Dampeer would strike you as someone that only puts forth extra effort the more that is asked of him. Another reason this Illinois standout is special.
With the accolades that we are more than ready to put upon Dampeer, don't think that we are alone in our lofty praise. It's not the local opinion, but a national one that has Dampeer right where he is. "Dampeer without question is one of the most talented returning players in the Class of 2003", states one recruiting analyst, while another praises Big Moe similarly, stating "Dampeer is just blessed with size and strength beyond compare, from his ability to shake off double and triple-teams to his ability to outrun most running backs, again, the skills are freaky". Can we go on? You bet. Chris Pool from Midwest recruiting stated of Dampeer, "Defensive tackles are at a premium and Dampeer is as good as they get at that position."
With the hype in full effect, how much do schools want him to come to their school? Heck, how much do they just want him to visit? Lawrence hasn't made a complete list of those he will be visiting, but he's got a good start. Come August 13th, Moe will be holding a press conference that will announce his finalized list of 10. The list should look something like this, though Dampeer didn't state as such. Illinois, Purdue, North Carolina State, Florida State, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Miami and UCLA. UCLA and Miami are scheduled already as officials and Oklahoma stands another strong possibility. As for unofficial visits, Nebraska stands the team coming the soonest.
So, with all that can just simply not be said about him as his numbers do so much in the way of talking for him, how do we (as reporters) find ourselves gloating over him? Because he is that damn good? Yes, but because his words about the game, what he expects from the game and his goals aren't often what you hear from one of the best players in the entire country. Moe even remarked about the fact that grades will come first for him, because his goals exist there first with football coming second. "Decatur is a place where a lot of talented people just don't make it" Dampeer stated of his home town "And my mom and dad have done so much for me, I have to give something back. I love my mom and she doesn't ask me for much. She told me that she didn't care where I went to college as long as I got a degree, so I am going to get that for her whether I play football or not" Surprising? Maybe even a little refreshing? There's more.
Moe's attitude doesn't just extend towards his parents, but his attitude towards the game itself. A game that he seems so adept at, a game for which Lawrence seems to truly have a gift, it's a game that he remains as humble about in terms of when he plays and how much. "I'm a freshman coming in and I have to prove myself" Moe stated in response to my question about early playing time being an issue. "I don't want anyone to throw me in there and say that I am going to start next week. I want to earn mine, because if you can go to that team and all freshmen start, something is going on with that team."
"I think that earning my spot means more, because they might need me to be a special teams player. They might need me to kick the ball or be a quarterback. If that is what I have to do for my team to win, that's what I am going to do. If I have to cheer on a guy (in front of me) who could be a possible Heisman guy and watch him have his fun and I have to wait until my senior season to play, that's what I am going to have to do."
You can't make this stuff up and you can't better the feeling anyone could get by hearing it, reading it or talking to Dampeer face-to-face. What you ideally want for any team is someone that has drive. You want someone that has ability and you want someone that can be a leader, represent their team, focus on support as well along with leaving a good impression for the rest of your teammates just by what you do and how you do it. Any coach would give just about anything for a player that had just a couple of those attributes.
Lawrence "Big Moe" Dampeer has them all.