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Narbonne's Moore plays in lockdown mode

Eighth in a series previewing top high school players

September 01, 2008|Eric Sondheimer | Times Staff Writer

Byron Moore Jr. of Harbor City Narbonne plays defensive back like a shark preparing to devour his prey.

He identifies his target, waits for an opportunity, then uses an outburst of speed and power to pounce on his opponent.

"Byron is a physical specimen," Coach Manuel Douglas said. "He's just explosive."

Twice last season as a junior he returned interceptions for touchdowns. At 6 feet 1 and 190 pounds, he can play cornerback, strong safety or free safety. He's also the Gauchos' No. 1 receiver, having averaged 21.7 yards per reception while scoring seven touchdowns.

But playing defense is where his future lies. He's committed to USC after earlier committing to UCLA, and Douglas sees him playing safety at the next level "because he can break to the ball" swiftly and decisively.

Moore is easy to spot out of pads because he looks the part of a college prospect with his broad shoulders and muscular build. He didn't get that way without lots of hard work.

His father turned the family garage into a gym when his son entered high school. It has a calf machine, weights for bench press, squat racks and a dumbbell system.

His parents decided they could make a small sacrifice, with his mom having to park her car in the driveway while his father parks on the street.

"It helps out a lot," Moore said. "I can lift weights any time and get my body ready for the season. I can stay on the weights all year long."

And don't anyone doubt that strength matters in football, whether helping to protect against injury or providing an advantage in the trenches.

Moore said strength is important "so you can deliver hits and take hits and not get worn down so fast."

Moore enjoys the challenge of trying to cover receivers who think they can get past him. He'll talk to them and let them know what they're about to encounter.

"They want to know I'm a good cover guy, like to hit and bring the wood," he said. "I like to be real physical with the receivers."

"Lockdown corner" or "lockdown defensive back" have become the newest code words in football. They describe defensive backs who are able to cover receivers man to man, stick with them and shut them down.

It's become part of the vocabulary of a defensive back, with Moore saying, "You have to be able to lock down people and go with the attitude you're going to lock down everybody."

Speed, agility, coordination, upper-body strength -- it all comes into play, and Moore possesses the makeup to be successful in the secondary.

He's expected to be a two-way standout for the Gauchos, who return All-City quarterback Josh Moten and hope the passing combination of Moten to Moore will lift them to a Marine League championship and a berth in the City Section Championship Division title game.

"This year our motto is finish," Moore said. "We don't feel we finished last year. We want to get to the championship."

Moore distinguished himself on the field last season and he was busy in the off-season, participating in numerous camps and combines, causing his father, Byron Sr., to say in the middle of June, "I'm all camped out."

What the camps and combines did for Moore was give him the opportunity to compare himself against lots of top defensive backs, and he showed he deserves to be considered among the best. Scout.com lists him as No. 11 in the nation among safety prospects.

Now it's a matter of turning his hard work into results this fall.

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* Next: Kickers

eric.sondheimer@latimes.com

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

Defensive backs report

How the defensive backs rank:

1. Chris Metcalf, Compton, 6-1, 175, Sr. USC commit is a safety with closing kick.

2. Stanjarivus McKay, Long Beach Poly, 6-0, 180, Sr. Safety runs well, hits hard.

3. Byron Moore Jr., Narbonne, 6-1, 190, Sr. He's in constant attack mode.

4. Patrick Hall, St. Bonaventure, 6-1, 185, Sr. USC commit is big-play weapon.

5. Alex Mascarenas, Mission Viejo, 5-10, 175, Sr. UCLA commit is smart, tough.

6. Dietrich Riley, St. Francis, 6-2, 180, Jr. Already has offers from USC, UCLA.

7. Marlon Pollard, Cajon, 6-0, 180, Sr. Committed to Notre Dame.

8. Sheldon Price, Bishop Amat, 6-1, 170, Sr. Committed to UCLA.

9. Brandon Sermons, Diamond Ranch, 6-1, 178, Sr. Gaining as top prospect.

10. Vachel Samuels, Lynwood, 6-1, 190, Sr. Has speed and aggressiveness.

-- Eric Sondheimer

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