With the waves increasing and Adrian Moore drifting further away from the pier in Cocoa, Fla., the Arkansas-Pine Bluff running back fought for his life.
“Adrian come back, Adrian come back,” Moore’s AAU basketball coaches yelled out.
Moore, who was 16 at the time, was jumping waves until he was pushed deep into the Atlantic Ocean.
“I had to fight for my life,” Moore recalls. “Every time I came up to breathe, a wave would come and take me back under the water.”
Moore eventually swam through the waves and made it back to his team safely.
But this event shaped Moore’s life and molded him into the person he is today: a person who has the willingness to fight, he said.
By the time Moore finished playing quarterback at White Hall (Ark.) High, where he ran for 2,272 yards and scored 31 touchdowns as a senior, it wasn’t literal waves that stood in the way of Moore. But other situations rose.
A four-star recruit by Scout.com, Moore spent the 2007 and 2008 seasons with Oklahoma State. He never got the opportunity he was seeking and transferred to Arkansas for the 2009 season.
“Playing there was big for me,” Moore said. “As a kid, you set goals, and I knew I had the talent (to play in the Southeastern Conference), but I didn’t expect things to go the way they did.”
Moore said he had class credits at Oklahoma State that did not transfer to Arkansas and because of this he would have had to sit out the 2010 season with the Razorbacks. Anxious to get back on the football field, Moore decided to transfer home and play for the Golden Lions.
Just a few years removed from being one of the nation’s top prospects, Moore said he tries to make the best of every situation placed in front of him.
Arkansas-Pine Bluff recruited Moore in 2006, and UAPB coach Monte Coleman said it was an easy transition when Moore arrived. Coleman called Moore a student of the game, even dating back to his Pop Warner playing days.
“One of his qualities is confidence,” Coleman said. “He’s confident in his ability and confident in himself. Not overconfident or cocky. Just confident.”
In his first season with the Golden Lions, Moore rushed for 328 yards and tied Stephen Jones with a team-leading five rushing touchdowns.
This season, Moore currently is the leading rusher in the Southwestern Athletic Conference with 483 yards on 74 carries. But there are two glaring holes from Moore’s stat line - touchdowns and consistency.
The bulk of Moore’s production has come in games against Alcorn State, Clark Atlanta and Jackson State where he rushed for 420 yards.
The other three games was a different story. In those, Moore ran for a combined 63 yards on 25 carries.
But the strong-willed 6-foot, 205-pound Moore sees these holes as his latest challenge.
“I like for my back to be against the wall,” Moore said. “I’m never complacent. I think big and work big in every game.”
Moore said his journey back home has been one he never expected, but he is enjoying his time in Pine Bluff. Some of the locals even call Moore the hometown hero, he said.
From a life-changing event as a teenager, to recent turmoil in college, Moore has never turned down a good fight.
As for this weekend’s divisional showdown against Southern, Moore is looking forward to fighting off the waves of one of his current challenges.
“I will look forward to getting in the end zone this weekend,” he said.