Mewelde Moore was the first Vikings rookie from the Class of 2004 to sign a contract last week, and he could be the first Viking to touch the ball in the preseason and regular-season openers because he is a leading candidate to return kickoffs.
Moore has been doing a lot of things well for years now. He just graduated from Tulane with a double major in finance and accounting, just days after signing his contract. He played minor league baseball in the Padres' system as a left fielder and center fielder, but his commitment to college and football kept him from seeing the field every game, he said. Now with the Vikings as a fourth-round draft pick in April, Moore is expected to compete for playing time as a third-down running back and a kick returner.
But the baseball question is something he gets asked about often since being drafted.
"That's probably something that's never going to die out," Moore said. "I guess it's interesting knowledge for everybody that wants to know what's going on and how I'm living. It doesn't bother me, but I just tell people I'm already here, I'm playing football and I'm enjoying myself."
At Tulane, he became only the second player in NCAA Division I-A history to gain 4,000 yards rushing and 2,000 yards receiving. The first player to do that was former Viking Darrin Nelson. His additional accomplishments as a running back are vast. He set school and Conference USA records with 22 games with at least 100 yards rushing and is second in the school and conference record books with 36 touchdowns.
Going from feature back at Tulane, where he said he accounted for 75 to 80 percent of the offense, to being a third-down back — at least initially — in the NFL will be a transition for Moore.
"Going from college and touching the ball somewhere from 25 to 40 times to being maybe the third-down back, I think the only thing that's going to change is I'm going to have a lot of energy. … When you're playing the course of a game, it's a journey and not just a sprint," he said.
He's been thinking about the long journey to the NFL ever since he was a kid.
"I made up my mind when I was a little kid, dreaming and sleeping with footballs in my hand, dreaming about big plays and guys that played in the pros. I'm a throwback kind of guy, watching the old-school guys play football. Even the new-school guys, the modern-day backs like Marshall Faulk and even how Emmitt (Smith) used to do it," Moore said.
"To me, I always dreamed of playing in the NFL and had that drive. In my situation, a lot of people thought I was the underdog, a lot doubted me. They didn't think I was smart, but I ended up graduating like 16th in my class. A lot of things, I always felt like an underdog because people never counted on me. That's just something that is embedded in me now, and that's just how I feel. I'm confident in what I do and I'm just going to continue to work and get better."
His goals are bigger than being a third-down back, and his initial outlook in minicamp earlier this month shows some promise to eventually see more action during first and second downs. But that will be a growing process, and he's realistic about where he needs to focus now.
"I want to be the best all-around back I can possibly be in the NFL," he said. "Also, I want to be the best at whatever I'm asked to do."
So far, he has been among the elite in baseball, academics and college football. His journey toward continued success in the NFL is just beginning.
Moore's Next Goal? NFL Success
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