The SMU offense put up points early and often against Nevada in the Hawaii bowl. Forcing the Wolf Pack to go to the air early and often. When they did, junior cornerback Sterling Moore was there. Moore had missed the previous two games with a dislocated knee cap, but he never had plans of missing a third. Moore worked extremely hard rehabbing to get back on the field with his team. A move that paid off.
"It was great to get back on the field. Missing the last previous games, I didn't really feel rusty. The coaches put me through some tough practices out there, to make sure I could handle it. They didn't want me feeling rusty out there," stated Moore to PonyStampede.com. "It wasn't really on my mind when I was out there. I just went out there and played, and forgot about it."
Moore finished with seven tackles in the game, tying a career high that he also set against UAB. The junior finished with one interception on the year and 11 pass deflections. Incredible stats for a player that did not become the full-time starter until the third game of the year.
"I had a great year, but I'm definitely not satisfied. I had stuff that I could work on. I dropped some interceptions and want to work on my open field tackling. I want to work on finishing my plays. I don't want to be satisfied with what I'm doing," said Moore.
Now, the returning starter will start to focus on getting his body 100% healthy. The knee feels fine, with no pains or swelling, but Moore must get his quad back to full shape to support the knee. He is currently in California for break, but will have an MRI upon returning to the Hilltop.
"As far as I know, I'm past the rehab stage for my knee. I have to get my quad healthy because that is what is going to strength and support my knee," said Moore. "They don't want me to do to much while I'm at home. Its looking like I won't need surgery, so that is good. The swelling has gone down for good. When I work out, it doesn't swell up after."
All early indications are Moore will not have to wear a brace next season. Good news for a cornerback relying on his cutting ability. Braces can be a secondary player's nightmare.
When Moore was recruited by SMU, he knew that with June Jones at the helm, SMU would eventually turn things around. Did he expect it to be in 2009?
"In all honesty, no. I knew we had some talented guys on the team and that we would win some games, but I never thought we would go 8-5," said Moore. "We were in Hawaii and I was asking some of the guys, how in the world did you go 1-11. They were all getting upset with me, but I was serious. I don't know how they went 1-11 and I had to know. There are some really talented guys on the team."
"I think it is one of those things where once you get a couple wins, you figure out that you can play with teams. It snowballed off of wins that we were not supposed to get."
Moore's top priorities this off-season will be getting his leg fully healthy and working on his speed. If there are no setbacks or effects from his knee injury, the Mustangs should have their lock-down corner in 2010.