Heir Apparent

Fathers hope for an heir that can follow in their footsteps and keep up the good works that they have started. Grandfathers hope that Grandsons can take over the family business and run it with the same savvy that they built it with. Everyone is looking for an heir and when they find one, they groom that heir into their image, sometimes it works out and sometimes that heir takes on an identity of their own and builds their own Dynasty. <i>This story was originally published Feb. 5th, 2003</i>

Junior Seau is getting older and everyone knows it, he has lost a step and every year it shows, he is more prone to injury but everyone still loves him. Everyone also loves the kid that comes in and plays for him, every time he makes a play you can hear the crowds scream ZEEEEEKKKEEEE! It seems like he is always near the ball and always making a play. The hometown boy makes good again, just like Seau and Middle linebacker Donnie Edwards. Zeke Moreno is from San Diego, he a Chula Vista Product that played locally at Castle Park High School where, like his brother Moses Moreno, he was a star.

I have liked this kid since he was at USC and always thought he was going to be big in this league, I can remember going into his Uncle's Barbershop (Al's Barbershop) in Santee, and sitting there and talking sports and about his 2 nephews. When we first started talking I only knew of Moses who was playing at Colorado, he then told me to keep an eye out for Zeke who was playing Linebacker at USC. So me always wanting to watch talent went and picked up A USC game and sure enough there was number 9. At first I thought this kid is to slow, but there was something amazing in the way he played, every time I heard the announcer say something about a play that happened on Defense there was always # 9 right in the Middle of it. Sack by Moreno, Fumble picked up by Moreno, Loss of yardage by Moreno and so on and so on, I thought to myself wow this kid is having a great game and I instantly took a liking to him, for someone who looked slow he was always there around the ball, always making a play.

The San Diego Chargers drafted Moreno in 2001 to backup Seau. It is obvious that Butler and the Chargers saw the same thing in him that I did; he can hit and make plays. Coming out of College Zeke was 6'3, 240 pounds with 4.8 speed, he had 12 sacks and 5 interceptions in a 4 year career at USC, he played all 3 linebacker positions but was suited more as an outside Linebacker by all the draft nicks.

Last year he started several games in the place of Seau, and I think of all the games he played I was most impressed with his first start that came against Denver. All week he practiced without knowing if Seau was going to play or not, and then did not find out until the Friday before the game. He then was battling the Flu and on top of that missed one day of practice. What impressed me you ask?? What impressed me is he still finished the game with 10 tackles and 1 assist, more then anyone else in the game. In fact he had the most Tackles of any of the players that game on Defense. Last year against this same Denver team he forced a fumble and got a Sack in the first game he started as a Pro.

If you listen to the critics out there Zeke should not be in the game, he should be a car salesman somewhere, he is either to slow, not a good tackler, lacks the ability to play outside linebacker etc. Yet the Kid makes plays every time he is in the game, Outside linebackers should be sure tacklers, is Zeke the best? No, but he makes them when they count and he is a hard hitter and a get in your face, knock the stew out of you, old fashioned linebacker. I have yet to see a game where this Kid's name is not being called. For someone who is supposed to be so slow and not able to play the backer Position in the NFL he sure gets his name called a lot.

I am sure there are other people out there that will disagree with me, and there are many who will down right say I am stupid for believing in this kid, but ever since his high school days he has been something to watch from what I hear and I know he was something to watch in college or he would not of been up for the Butkus Award. I know this kid will make it if he ever gets the chance to play a full season and show his stuff, his teammates love him, and they do not lose a step with him in the game instead of Seau.

Some day Seau is going to retire, and I am sure that everyone will think that we need to go out find us a new linebacker one with Seau's fire and passion to attack the line. One who will pump his fist after each tackle, one that dances during time outs and exercises and that is a crowd favorite. I love that in Junior, but that is Junior. The silent one's are the ones you have to look out for, they are deadly, they sneak up on you and when they get you it hurts. Just ask Brian Griese, or Clinton Portis. Just ask Doug Jolley and Charlie Garner, ask any of Zeke's opponents from his days at USC. Everyone is looking for that heir, and Seau's is already here, watching and learning and biding his time waiting for his chance and when he gets it, he makes the best of it. Seau no longer has to just look at the lineman in front of him, now he will be looking over his shoulder, as Zeke silently waits for his chance to Shine.

Tom Criswell can be reached at: Tom Criswell

Got something to say? Talk about it on the Chargers Message Boards

SD Super Chargers Top Stories