His Decision to Settle on Seattle Has Brought Satisfaction : Football: Former West Torrance High player Josh Moore has been to two Rose Bowls and played on a national championship team at Washington.


Three years ago, when he was a senior at West Torrance High, Josh Moore went to a UCLA-Washington football game at the Rose Bowl courtesy of the Bruin program.

UCLA had been one of the few schools to show even marginal interest in Moore, so he took the free tickets and watched as the Huskies defeated the Bruins, 28-27. Washington's performance made an impression on Moore.

"As I was watching that game I thought to myself that maybe Washington wouldn't be a bad place to go," he said.

Choosing Washington has turned out well for Moore. After two years in Seattle, one as a redshirt, he has been to two Rose Bowls and played on a national championship team in 1991. UCLA, meanwhile, has not been to the Rose Bowl since Moore was in eighth grade.

This season, Moore will replace cornerback Dana Hall, who was a first-round draft pick of the San Francisco 49ers, and join a secondary that has been rated the best in college football by the Sporting News. The No. 2-ranked Huskies open the season Saturday night at Arizona State.

When he began his redshirt freshman season a year ago, Moore was third on the depth chart behind Hall and Russell Hairston. He eventually worked his way into the No. 2 spot and played in passing-down situations.

"Playing behind (Dana Hall) helped a lot," Moore said. "I saw his practice effort and when I had a question I could ask him and learn from him. Dana told me that (Hairston) was lagging and to push him, so I started pushing him in practice."

While he has yet to make an impact in a game at Washington, Moore has received several practice awards, including the most improved defensive back in spring practice.

"Josh came into spring as an unproven guy, stepped in and did a good job for us," said Ron Milus, Washington's cornerback coach. "He improved on his man-to-man coverage and really solidified a spot with us."

During his first year at Washington, Moore's only action came on the practice field as a member of the scout team. He was designated the top defensive back of that week's opponent, emulating that player's style.

"I would go against the first- or second-string offense every week," Moore said. "It's hard as a freshman, coming from being a high school star to being on the scout team and pretending to be someone else. Everyone has a role to play on the team, but I was Josh Moore and I wanted to play like Josh Moore."

Moore became the Rich Little of Washington football, and his impersonations of other athletes were so good in practice that he twice earned the team's backup of the week award his redshirt season.

But all of the accolades he received during his first two years in Seattle did not guarantee Moore a starting job. He still faced competition from a former Muir High cornerback, redshirt freshman Reggie Reser.

"(Reser's) a real good corner, he has the footwork a corner needs and he kept me on my toes," Moore said. "In order to build a dynasty you want to have younger players who push the older players because you don't want too much of a drop-off. You need players like him in this program to be a dynasty and that's what we want to be."

Washington's success the past two years earned Moore a lot of playing time, since the Huskies often had large leads that allowed the backups to enter the game.

Attending two Rose Bowl games also gave Moore a taste of what he is working for this season.

"We're on top right now and everyone wants to be on top," he said. "Getting to go to the Rose Bowl game, to feel a part of something like that was incredible."

As a bonus for winning a national championship last year, Moore joined his Husky teammates for a trip to the White House to meet President Bush.

"It was a good experience to go and meet the President, a real shocker," Moore said. "We were pretty close (to where Bush stood) and I thought of being there and it was really exciting to be there with the most important man in the world."

Ironically, had it not been for a shoulder injury during his junior year at West, Moore likely would have received more attention from recruiters and might have opted for another school.

"You get most of your letters when you are a junior, so I came out as an unknown and everyone kind of backed off of me, but Washington stuck with me," Moore said.

"It's amazing that only Washington would take a look at him," said John Black, a former co-coach at West. "We tried to get USC and UCLA, but not a lot of major colleges would look at him. Washington liked him but they kind of felt they were taking a chance." West was 3-2 before Moore, then a junior, suffered a shoulder injury. After the injury the Warriors went 1-4 to finish 4-6.

"(Moore's injury) had a major effect on our team," Black said. "He was only a junior yet he was kind of the bright spot we had. We wanted to play him a lot more at running back and we couldn't even do that because we didn't want him to re-injure the shoulder. We really lost two players because he was playing both ways."

As a senior, Moore was named Ocean League most valuable player. He rushed 110 times, gained 750 yards and scored 17 touchdowns. Defensively he had eight interceptions and made 49 solo tackles. Moore also returned a kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown against Redondo.

"He had eight interceptions halfway through his senior season, but what happened was that everybody stopped throwing toward him," Black said. "That's why he didn't get any more interceptions."

Black credits much of Moore's success as a defensive back to his ability to cover receivers one-on-one and anticipate passes.

"When he was a junior he played against (South Torrance's) Johnnie Morton, who's now at USC," Black said. "He covered Morton all over the field. When Morton went to the left, Josh went to the left. We could see right then that he was a big-play type of kid who liked the competition and would rise to the occasion.

"He would lay off a receiver and they would think they could run a quick-hitch on him, but he would come up, because he had such great anticipation, and drive on the ball."

Many believe Moore's football instincts will lead to a productive career in Seattle, which has become his home away from home.

"It's beautiful," he said. "It reminds me a lot of California, but it's slow-paced. But then again, Torrance is not the most active city in the world."

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