June 19, 2012
Transformers? Masters of the Universe? Plastic Army men? Legos? Sports of any kind? Monkey bars, slides, and swings?
For a lot of seven-year-old boys those were some of the toys they played with and the activities that kept them occupied into their adolescent years and free time, at least until they got older and developed other interests.
That is not the case for The University of Montana's football player Dan Moore.
Moore, a 5-11, 235-pound senior fullback/halfback, had different priorities. Flashing back to 1997, Dan was living in Tucson, Ariz., and was at the formidable age of seven. That's when his unusual odyssey began.
"I became interested in lifting weights when I was seven years old," said Moore, who started several games at running back last season at UM. "I remember my dad (David Moore, who played middle linebacker in college and at a junior college) coming into the house and he had a muscle-fitness magazine. I starting going through it, and I started seeing all these big guys - and man, I just wanted to be like that.
"I saw the old Arnold (Schwarzenegger) movies, and how big he was and how big my dad used to be, and he (his dad) came home one day and I asked him about weight-lifting, and he told me I was too young at the time," Moore said. "But it was then that I started doing push-ups and sit-ups, and I just got a good feeling from working out. Ever since then I have just stuck with it."
When you walk into the Grizzly weight room located on the west side of the Adams Center, there are three reader boards attached to the lower level room where the free weights are stored, and on those boards there is a list of 15 to 20 players who are the leaders on the football team in three categories: the clean and jerk, bench press, and power clean. The name listed on the top of each board: - Dan Moore.
Moore set those marks four years ago as a redshirt freshman (in 2009) when he weighed around 215 pounds. Those marks: 410 pounds in the bench press; 386 in the clean, and 507 in the back squat.
One of the primary tests that the National Football League scouts put potential NFL players through prior to the draft process is so see how many times they can bench press 225 pounds. Moore said his PR is 33 times, and " I hope to get to 35 to 40 in the future."
"I always looked up to him (his dad)," Moore said; "he was just the big guy in my house, you know. I wanted to always be just like him. He bought me a gym one day for Christmas (he said he was eight or nine years old at the time), and every year after that I would get more weight, and more weight, and more weight. Not that he was pushing it on me, but it was just what I wanted to do, and I needed more weight after every year."
It didn't take Dan too long to get to the competitive level in the world of competitive weight-lifting, which is something he pursued when he got into high school.
"I went into high school and had been lifting my whole life at that point, and I went in there and broke all of the high school records (Mountain View High School in Tucson, Ariz.)," he said. "I was lifting at a local gym down there in Tucson at the YMCA, and an older guy came up to me and said `you lift a lot of weights, do want to compete in it?' And I said `yeah, why not'."
A week later a USA Power-lifting tournament event was held in Tucson, and Moore signed up to compete, and as the cliche goes, you know the rest of the story.
He said that the competitors were divided up by age and body weight. The events were the squat, dead-lift and bench tests; Moore, who said he weighed around 170 pounds at the time, won the first ever time he competed in a tournament. He was 15 years old at the time.
"In high school I always had these role models, and every single one of them has been buffed," Moore said. "They all had really good physiques and were in great shape. Going into football and playing running back - those are some of the best looking guys on the field. You look at Walter Payton (a hall of famer who played for the Chicago Bears) or Maurice Jones-Drew (an all-star running back for the Jacksonville Jaguars), or guys like that; and I felt like I needed to sort of look like them."
Moore, 22, said his weekly routine is to lift weights twice a day, usually about four hours a day. In the morning he works out with several other Griz players, and then lifts again in the afternoon after he attends summer school classes, usually with teammate Jacob Haas, a senior tight end. He said if he is sore in any muscle parts then he will take the day off.
"Lifting to me is a huge stress reliever," Moore said. "I go in there (the weight room) and I let out everything that frustrated me throughout the day, and it all goes away."
Moore, who will earn a degree in sociology at UM, was unable to play or practice with the Grizzlies when he started school in 2008 because he did not have enough core credits to be eligible.
"What happened was that at my high school we hadn't had a player go on to college and play sports for like 10 years, so they never updated those NCAA requirements," he said. "Through that time you needed 16 core credits, but now you need 18 core credits, and I just had 16.
"It (having to sit out a season) was absolutely a blessing," Moore continued. "I am lucky enough to have another season and play another year with the Griz. It all worked out for the best. That first year definitely gave me some push in the weight room. I saw guys like (offensive linemen) Collin Dow and J.D. Quinn, and it's like man, if I want to play at this level I've got to get bigger and stronger. I had that whole year to stay in the weight room and work my size up, and like I said, that was a blessing. Now, at the end of it all, I have another year to play."
As a youngster Moore said he started with aspirations of maybe some day taking his athletic abilities to the next level.
"To win a national championship at Montana is my number one goal right now, and then after that, he NFL has been my dream since the day I lifted my first weight," he said. "That's why I lift weights, that's why I run, and do all of this. That's every little boy's dream, and I am taking the steps that I can to get there. It's in God's hands, and whatever happens, happens."
Moore's focus right now, though, is helping his Montana Grizzlies have a great season and make another good run in the playoffs. Despite losing numerous starters on both sides of the football, he thinks the 2012 season could be a stellar one for the Griz.
"We'll be fine," he said. "We lost a lot of good guys, but we got a lot of guys who have played (coming back). (Linebacker) Brock Coyle will step up in the middle, and a lot of fifth-year guys coming back, like (linebacker) Josh Stuberg and (tight end) Greg Hardy.
"There are a lot of guys who have played a lot of football who are still here," he continued. "Some of the young guys are going to have to step up. We have a great tradition of younger guys stepping up and making plays, and starting their careers here. The apple won't fall far from the tree."
Only time will tell what the future holds for Dan Moore. He (and Griz fans) hope his senior campaign at UM is a memorable one. Then he may get an opportunity for a pro career -- a prize he has coveted since he was a young weight-lifter in Tucson. He's sure worked awfully hard to get to where he is today - here's hoping he fulfills his life-long dream and reaches his pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
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