USA TODAY Sports
COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- Terps junior wide receiver D.J. Moore came into this season with a reputation for breaking tackles and making big plays. Through two games in 2017, Moore has lived up to that reputation and then some.
Moore caught a career-high seven catches for 133 yards and touchdown in the Terps’ season-opening win at then-No. 23 Texas. He followed that performance up by tying his career-high in catches against Towson, finishing with seven catches for 97 yards and pair of receiving touchdowns.
Oh, and Moore added a 21-yard touchdown run against Towson that included more broken tackles (6) in a single play than some receivers have in an entire season.
— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) September 11, 2017
So how does Moore break so many tackles? According to Maryland head coach DJ Durkin, it’s a mindset.
“He’s a physical guy,” Durkin said during his weekly press conference. “He’s built big for a receiver and still has the ability to run and change direction. Athletically, you don’t see many guys like that. It’s about his determination, his work ethic, he’s a competitor. When he catches that ball, he wants to do something with it. That’s a mindset. Some guys catch the ball and want to get to the ground. He doesn’t. He wants to catch the ball and gain yards and make something happen with it. Certainly a lot of work has been put into that by him, I think he’s earned all that. We’re going to keep trying to get him the ball.”
Through two games, Moore has 312 all-purpose yards for the Terps, second-most on the team behind Ty Johnson, and leads the team with four all-purpose touchdowns. Even more impressive, Moore currently leads all FBS wide receivers in yards per route run (minimum of 30 snaps in route) with 6.03 yards per route according to Pro Football Focus.
According to Durkin, Moore is the only Terp to have earned Champion's Club every quarter since his arrival and he believes that's a perfect example of why Moore has excelled like he has this season.
“What makes him special to me is how he works and just what he does," Durkin said. "You guys are all familiar with our Champion’s Club, he’s been a champion every quarter since we’ve been here. He’s the only guy on the team that’s been in the Champion’s Club every single quarter. That, to me, in our terms, as we define a program, speaks to his level of work ethic, accountability, all the things we talk about as a program. He’s the model guy for that. That’s where you see that carry over and why he’s able to play at the level he plays.”
According to Moore, it's attention to detail that has enabled him to earn Champion's Club every quarter under Durkin.
“You have to do everything right like go to class, don’t be late for anything, just all of the little things you have to do right," Moore said. "And it’s a sense of pride for me because I take time to make sure I’m doing everything right.”
Ask Moore himself what makes him so good at making big plays and breaking tackles, he believes it's a two part process.
“There’s two parts to the whole play for me," Moore said. "There’s the play that we actually get it and if the ball comes my way and I catch it, the next play starts for me to just go execute and go score and just not get tackled because I don’t really like going down.”
Ask a teammate like senior defensive back Josh Woods that has to go up against Moore in practice what makes him so good, and he will be quick to point out his work ethic and strength.
“He brings it every day," said Woods. "You know, if DJ’s lined up on the other side that he’s more than likely going to make a big play. You know you are going to get a quality rep going against DJ. It’s really good to have players like that on the other side of the ball. Coach Durkin says all the time, ‘iron sharpens iron,’ that’s why we go ones versus ones and twos versus twos. It just gets everyone better.
“You can just see how strong he is, whether he’s just blocking someone on the perimeter in practice or that Towson play everyone’s been talking about, that play was ridiculous. Sometimes, even though we see him every day, there are still plays where you’re just like, ‘how did he do that?’”
As for what's actually running through Moore's mind when he has the ball in his hands? It's pretty simple.
“Don’t get tackled," said Moore. "Just make a play.”