CATEGORY: FOC College Football

AUTHOR: PHELPS

ARTIE MOORE FINDS HIS NICHE ON FIELD

By Gene Phelps

Daily Journal

Artie Moore heard it all from college recruiters. You're the best. You're the fastest. You're going to be a starter right away. You're on your way to the NFL.

"I got caught up in all of those things," said Moore, a 5-foot-7, 190-pound senior tailback for Ole Miss. "I was listening to everybody tell me how great I was, how great I was going to be. And I hadn't done anything."

Moore rushed for 4,769 yards and scored 55 touchdowns during his high school career at Stone County. His 2,342-yard junior season propelled him into the national spotlight and onto the list of about every major school. One publication, The Sporting News, listed him as one of the top five running backs in the nation.

LSU did the best selling job. Problem was, the Tigers signed a number of top high school running backs that year, including Birmingham's Robert Davis, who was named Mr. Alabama Football.

Moore played as a freshman, but not much. He saw action in nine games, rushing for 159 yards on 27 carries. His highlight was a 45-yard scamper on a flanker reverse that led to a game-tying field goal against Mississippi State.

"I was one of those guys who was told he would come out and start right off the bat," Moore said. "That's one of the casualties of college sports, you are told things that are not always true. The thing you're not told is that you've got to work hard and be willing to spend the time and effort to be that player.

"It took me a while to learn it. Other players come out really mature and able to handle it."

Moore transferred to Ole Miss following his freshman season. He had been recruited by the Rebels and was familiar with the program because his cousin, Stevon Moore, had played defensive back for the program.

"I don't regret the time I spent at LSU," he said. "It was a fun time, but at the same time it wasn't a situation I was happy with. There where some things off the field that led me to leave."

Whatever the reasons, Ole Miss was elated to have Moore in camp. But he didn't exactly spring onto the scene. He had to sit out the '93 season and didn't play any the '94 season. Last season, he played in six games, rushing for 217 yards on 40 carries, playing behind Dou Innocent and Mark Smith. He had his best game against Indiana State, rambling for 94 yards on 12 carries.

This season, Moore is the starter and he is making the most of his chance. He has rushed for 200 yards on 46 attempts and scored four touchdowns in two games. He had his first career 100-yard college game last week, rushing for 112 yards on 19 carries against VMI.

"I never get caught up in rushing yardage," he said. "The main thing is that we win. I could rush for 300 yards and if we didn't win it wouldn't matter."

Moore knows the Ole Miss running game will be tested in this Saturday's SEC matchup against Auburn. The televised (Jefferson-Pilot) game is scheduled for an 11:37 a.m. kickoff at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in Oxford.

"I think we're getting better each week," he said. "I know I'm getting better with each snap."

Ole Miss head coach Tommy Tuberville has been pleased with Moore's progress.

"Artie's getting better and starting to break a few more tackles," he said. "He needs to be more of an inside runner for us. He's really a better player in the backfield than Dou because he is a better pass receiver. Artie's really proved himself in this offense."

As for his long road to a starting job, Moore said he would like to write a book about his days in college football.

"It would be about how not to do the things I did," he said, then smiled. "I could have saved myself a lot of time, anguish and pain if only I had known what I know today.

"It's been a learning experience and I wouldn't take it back for anything. I'm the person I am today because of my experiences in college football."

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