|Top Dog: Moreno looks to build on freshman season|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 28 August 2008 14:14|
That's a strong bragging point for Moreno, but his big 2007 season merits comparisons not just to Walker's freshman year.
Only two Georgia tailbacks have rushed for more yards than Moreno's 1,334 last season.
Moreno's freshman debut was better than any rushing total from Rodney Hampton, Musa Smith, Willie McClendon, Tim Worley or Terrell Davis, better than Thomas Brown, Lars Tate, Verron Haynes, Frank Sinkwich, Charley Trippi or Kevin McLee.
And Moreno rushed for all those yards and 14 touchdowns while sharing time with Brown, who started most of the season before being drafted by the Atlanta Falcons.
Now it's Moreno's year. Georgia's tailback timeshare is no more.
Moreno is the No. 1 threat and undisputed No. 1 running back for No. 1 Georgia.
If he continues momentum from his big freshman season, he could soon be listed near the top of Heisman Trophy watch lists.
Moreno begins his quest to build on his big 2007 season when Georgia opens its season against Georgia Southern on Saturday.
One year ago, Moreno was just another unproven new kid competing for playing time behind Brown and Kregg Lumpkin. Now he's a rising star who has appeared on the covers of several national magazines this summer.
It must be strange for a kid from Belford, N.J., to see himself at newsstands.
``I just smile,'' he said. ``I'm just excited.''
Does he have a favorite cover?
``They're all pretty sweet,'' he said. ``They're all cool.''
The 5-foot-11, 207-pound Moreno left New Jersey as the state's all-time scoring leader, and he led Middletown South to three straight state championships.
Even when Moreno was redshirted in 2006, Georgia players soon began spreading stories of the running back's spinning runs and big-play skills in practice.
Moreno began the 2007 season as a backup, but he soon had Georgia fans at Sanford Stadium swaying to his favorite Soulja Boy beat.
Moreno says he may have a new signature song this season. Coach Mark Richt just wants to see the sophomore show the same signature moves on the field.
But this season, defenses will be looking for Moreno.
``Everybody knows about Knowshon now,'' Richt said.
Moreno spent most of the summer in Athens, but he returned to his New Jersey home for about a week. Moreno is so closely watched that his trip home caused a stir among Georgia fans.
``It was just for peace of mind, really,'' said Richt this week of Moreno's much-discussed trip.
``Everywhere you go, somebody wants a picture, somebody wants an autograph, somebody wants something from you,'' Richt said. ``Even when it comes from friends, it's hard to know who your friends are sometimes because everybody wants that association. Not everybody, but a lot of people do. That's something they've got to deal with that's probably a little different than what they thought.''
The quarterback is always a focal point, but at Georgia, the tailback is often the bigger star.
Walker, who left with the three best season rushing totals in Georgia history, is still an icon. Walker's college career ended five years before Moreno was born, but he remains the measuring stick for Georgia tailbacks.
Walker was No. 34. Moreno is No. 24. No Georgia back has matched Walker's remarkable mix of size and speed, but Moreno has good speed, good size and a slick, spinning style that produced a strong average of 5.3 yards per carry.
Moreno's streak of five straight 100-yard games last season included 188 yards and three touchdowns in a win over Florida and 101 yards with two touchdowns in a win over Auburn. He set a personal high with 196 yards and three touchdowns, including an 80-yard run, against Troy.
Walker and Moreno talked during the offseason. Moreno said Walker didn't pass on any advice about football.
``We just talked about things other than football and got to know each other,'' Moreno said. ``It was pretty sweet.
``Anytime you're with Herschel, it's really cool to be around him. He's a good guy and a good person to be around. I was pretty excited.''
Moreno's backups are freshmen Caleb King and Richard Samuel. Each were big recruits, but Moreno is expected to receive most of the carries.
``I'm not going to approach it any different,'' Moreno said. ``I'm going to do the same things I did last year, just try and get better each and every week and work on the small things to get us better as a team.''
Added Moreno: ``I think it will be fun.''