Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Top 25 Players: #5

Sorry for the delay- but I’ve been battling my annual tracheal infection. Back to the list.

As Tulane moved into the C-USA era, the quarterback and skill player reigned supreme. But again, the quarterback and skill player were the guys who emerged only after being sifted through the BCS filter: the distribution quarterback versus the big armed, big body, pro-style QB; the fast wide receiver versus the big fast receiver, the scat back who could really catch versus the true power franchise back.

Well, if the “best scat back who could catch” defines the C-USA running back position, the best in the history of C-USA played his college football at Tulane:

5. Mewelde Moore, RB (2000-2003)

Upfront, I think Mewelde Moore is best running back in the history of C-USA- which is high praise in a League driven by skill position excellence. Memphis’ DeAngelo Williams is both the all-time C-USA leading rusher (6026 yards) and total yards from scrimmage (6749 yards)- but those 700+ yards receiving just aren’t much in a passing League. As I've argued over the years, it is hard to translate big C-USA rushing totals into helpful actual point totals.

But who else? Damien Fletcher (USM) is the only guy with similar 6000-yard production (and again, an indifferent receiver). Matt Forte (Tulane) and Kevin Smith (UCF) would have had to play a whole extra season to approach Moore’s offensive totals.

Moore developed into the ultimate spread offense tailback weapon. Yet people forget he actually was listed as a wide receiver his first year. He was a typical C-USA wide out recruit: fast, but lacking in raw stature (5' 11"). But it was the source of his good hands and route running inteligence. So, Moore could always run and catch like a wide receiver. Then, that "idiot" Scelfo realized his good running vision and change of direction, found him a better position, and watched as Moore performed as an A-level C-USA tailback (22 career 100-yard rushing games).

So again, while he was not a true SEC power back, he was a very, very high NFL caliber “change of pace” player. Consequently, he was quick to the holes, then so scary and lethal in the second level. Even better, Tulane possessed quarterbacks who could also “distribute” the ball to Moore in the second level, no linebacker could cover him, and he piled up catches like crazy.

The supreme cartoon number generator was created. His career mark of 6050 total yards is still the Tulane mark (Matt Forte is second with 5261 yards) and was twelfth all-time in the NCAA I-A at his career’s conclusion. He also left college with both the Tulane and C-USA career rushing records (again, such a great runner in the spread offense) and receiving records (for a running back). He was a freshman all-American, C-USA freshman of the year and first team all C-USA twice. He made the all-decade C-USA team- along with Shaun King and Seth Marler.

Again, the “franchise back” is an NFL objective in the first fifty picks- and that was not Mewelde Moore. His draft stock suffered a little. But he was a clear complimentary player, selected in the fourth round by Minnesota, then moved to Pittsburgh. He has had a very fine seven year career as said complimentary player- with only one lost fumble in a career of 675 touches. Amazing.