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Trojans Give Moore the Chance He Wanted : College: Unable to distinguish himself athletically at Beverly Hills High, USC is offering him an opportunity to earn playing time as a wide receiver.

August 05, 1993|LONNIE WHITE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

BEVERLY HILLS — Keeping up with family standards has been difficult for former Beverly Hills High athlete Kevin Moore.

Brother Michael, a three-sport standout at Beverly Hills who went on to play football and baseball at UCLA, is playing for the Dodgers' Class-A team in Bakersfield.

Uncle Ahmad Rashad is an announcer for NBC and a former All-Pro wide receiver for the Minnesota Vikings.

Although he excelled in football and baseball, Moore had three major injuries in four years and was unable to distinguish himself.

When he graduated in June, Moore found himself without any offers to continue his athletic career.

"It was difficult to understand why I had not heard from anyone," said Moore, a wide receiver and tailback in football and outfielder in baseball. "It made me really wonder."

Although he was All-Ocean League and summer league all-star in baseball, Moore was not selected in the major league draft in June.

Because he is 6-foot-2 and 195 pounds, it was thought a college would offer Moore a scholarship to play football. But the offer never came.

"All I need is a chance," Moore told himself. "I can play at the next level. I know I can."

Instead of giving up, Moore continued to work hard in case an opportunity developed. It didn't matter whether it was baseball or football, he just wanted to compete.

His break came when Beverly Hills football assistant Steve Moniz told Mike Sanford, his former coach at USC, about Moore.

One thing led to another and the next thing Moore knew, USC wanted him as a wide receiver in the fall.

"My father told me not to let anything faze me because I would get my chance sooner or later," Moore said. "When I first heard about USC, I didn't want to get my hopes up too high. But now, since this has happened, it couldn't be a better situation for me."

Although he is not on scholarship, Moore began practice Wednesday with other first-year players. According to Sanford, Moore will be given every opportunity to compete for playing time.

"This is great for Kevin because we really have need of a wide receiver this year," Sanford said. "We knew about him (at Beverly Hills), but things happened. It wasn't until after the recruiting process was over that we stepped up our interest in him."

After John Robinson returned as USC coach in January, Moore's interest in the Trojans picked up. That's because Robinson coached Rashad--then known as Bobby Moore--at Oregon.

"My dad was really excited once Robinson took over because he knew that he coached Ahmad," Moore said. "He wanted Robinson to know about me."

With USC returning only one experienced wide receiver in Johnnie Morton, Sanford is optimistic about Moore's chances to earn playing time.

"Sometimes, it is tough for a walk-on to come in and play," Sanford said. "But I told him and his father that he will be given an opportunity because we are very thin at that position."

Moore thinks his best days as a football player are to come.

"When I entered Beverly Hills, I felt that I could do everything Michael could do, except maybe run as fast," Moore said. "I never felt pressure to outdo him, I just had to go at my own pace."

Moore showed a glimpse of his talent as a freshman tailback. He led Beverly Hills in rushing after five games, then injured a knee and was out for the season.

After having arthroscopic surgery, Moore joined the freshman baseball team in the spring and led the team in home runs.

As a sophomore, Moore injured a knee playing quarterback on the junior varsity team.

"It seemed like something was working against me when I played football," Moore said.

Five months after the injury, Moore came back to bat .420 and earn most-valuable-player honors on the junior varsity baseball team.

Moore sat out his junior football season after undergoing reconstructive knee surgery in the summer, but he rebuilt the knee in time to join the varsity baseball team and he was named to the Ocean League second team.

Moore rejoined the football team last fall and emerged as one of the Westside's best receivers until he injured a shin in the fourth game and missed the rest of the season.

"Again, I was hurt playing football," Moore said. "But this time I realized that I liked football. I really had a lot of fun."

Moore distinguished himself on the baseball team last spring and played with an American Legion team this summer. He also plans to give baseball a shot at USC.

"I know that I've had to overcome many setbacks, but I'm a late bloomer," he said. "The best is yet to come for me."

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