Coaches and teammates believe Ryan Moore can add to UM's receivers legacy.
MIAMI - Losing star players at Miami does not create as much concern as it does opportunity. A playmaker leaves, and another steps up for his chance. Now it is Ryan Moore's time to shine.
Andre Johnson is gone to the NFL, the third overall pick by the Houston Texans. No worries. Moore already is hailed as a player who can be just as productive.
"I think he's got a chance to be one of the big-time receivers, along the lines of what we've had here," UM coach Larry Coker said. "He's not an Andre Johnson. He's not 228 pounds. But he's probably a better receiver than Andre from the standpoint of being able to run routes and adjust to the ball and some of those things. It's not a knock on Andre, I just think he can be that good.
"The thing that has really hurt his progress is the injuries he's had in his career. Hopefully he'll stay healthy. We've seen some glimpses of how good he can be. I know on the scout team a year ago, he was a very formidable guy to cover."
Moore, a 6-foot-3, 205-pound redshirt freshman from Orlando, is expected to make his second start tonight when Miami plays Florida at the Orange Bowl. He figured to be a prominent contributor last season but could not stay healthy. A nagging hamstring injury meant he played three games before seeking a medical redshirt. He had just one catch and spent the rest of the season with transfer quarterback Brock Berlin on the scout team.
And that wasn't all bad.
"This is the best I have felt since I've been here," Moore said. "It was frustrating at first not being able to play or practice. Sometimes I would just cry about it. Now I see I learned from it, sitting back and watching the other guys. It was all for the better."
In UM's opener against Louisiana Tech, Moore had four receptions for 67 yards and scored his first career touchdown on a 24-yard pass from Berlin.
Because of preseason injuries to receivers Roscoe Parrish and Jason Geathers, Moore got his chance to start and makes for a formidable combo with senior receiver Kevin Beard.
"He's got something special," Coker said. "The speed's there, but it's the smoothness he has, the athleticism and the ability to adjust to the football."
Moore, a two-sport standout at Dr. Phillips High, considered playing basketball as well at Miami, until he realized that it might be better for his future to concentrate on football.
"There are a lot of 6-3 guards out there, but there aren't a lot of big receivers out there," Moore said.
"No matter where the ball's put he somehow finds a way to catch it," linebacker Jonathan Vilma said. "He's very athletic and he can only get better. He's really coming into his own."