Northern Illinois senior receiver Martel Moore really came of age during the Huskies’ 38-20 win over Arkansas State in last season’s GoDaddy.com Bowl, coming up with eight receptions for 224 yards and a touchdown.
In 2011, the San Antonio native had 47 catches for 747 yards and seven touchdowns, and is expected to be one of NIU’s key offensive weapons in 2012.
Moore sat down with Daily Chronicle NIU beat reporter Steve Nitz on Thursday morning to discuss his career and the Huskies’ 2012 season. The following is an edited transcript:
You had an outstanding performance in the GoDaddy.com Bowl last season. What got into you?
Basically it was just go out there and have fun, play the last game for the seniors. Make sure they go out there and have the winningest class, especially so we can beat that this year. How I feel about our senior class, I’m pretty sure we’re only like six or seven games away from their little record. That’s what we want to do is keep it going for our year, and then the next year and the following year, to consistently get [the record] broken.
What can fans expect to see from you in 2012?
A determined person just to win every game, go back to the [Mid-American Conference] Championship. ... Win the MAC West for the third [straight year]. A really enthusiastic person. ... Now I’m taking to a leadership role. I’m going to be more vocal this season.
What are the challenges of being a leader?
Just making sure everybody’s doing the right things. Making sure you’re doing the right things because everybody’s looking up to you, and you’ve got to stay on your game on and off the field, and make sure everybody on your team, your coaches and the fans like you.
How do you think the team will handle the transition at quarterback, going from Chandler Harnish to Jordan Lynch?
Jordan and Chandler, we were really good with both of them. We always practiced with both of them. So, I don’t think it’s going to be that bad of a transition. We really saw in the spring where Jordan really stepped his game up and saw what he really can do now that Chandler’s gone. I think he’s going to explode on the scene.
NIU also has a new offensive coordinator in Mike Dunbar. Will there be any significant changes to the offensive schemes?
There’s going to be some changes, he’s going to put some of his little tweaks in there. It’s only going to benefit us. But most of it’s probably going to be the same. I know there’s going to be some tweaks and I know he’s a good coach.
Is there any receiver in college or the NFL who you pattern yourself after, and why?
Probably (Chad) Ochocinco, just based off his releases. I’m really trying to get my feet as quick as him. Randy Moss as a down field person, that’s always been my idol. And just from a standpoint of hands, putting all the tools together, I want to be just like Jerry Rice. Just to be a person that everybody likes and can respect.
You’re a long way from home, hailing from San Antonio. How did you end up at NIU?
(Former) coach (Jerry) Kill knew my offensive coordinator that came in my senior year (of high school). He had played at a Division III school that [Kill] was coaching at. Coach, he sent him some film up here of me and Anthony Johnson. They came down and offered us on the spot, and I came on a visit. Nate Palmer was my host. It was something different, I didn’t really want to stay down South. So I chose here, and it worked out for the best.
Tough getting used to the cold weather at first?
Yeah, but I never had seen snow. It was something I wanted to experience. Just something different instead of heat.
When did you really get used to playing in the cold weather?
My freshman year was real hard because every Thursday it was raining, it was real cold. That’s really when I had to man up, I think, and really take over. If I wanted to play up here I knew I had to play in the cold. Every year you see that there’s going to be a cold game, you’re going to play in it. It’s all about mentality. It’s all in your head, that’s how I feel about it.
You grew up in a football hotbed, obviously. Any certain school you grew up rooting for and wanting to play for?
When I was younger my cousin, Wane McGarity, played for Texas. So, I was always at Texas when I was younger. Maybe elementary, middle school I was always up there with him about every week, watching him. When Ricky Williams broke [the NCAA career rushing record] I was there. I wanted to play for Texas, but as I grew up I wanted to play for Texas Tech just because of Mike Leach and the way they threw the ball. And I knew (49ers receiver Michael) Crabtree.
Part of NIU’s 2009 recruiting class, you’re already a senior. Is it hard to believe you just have one year left?
Yeah. Me and Perez (Ashford) were just talking about that a couple days ago. It felt like yesterday we were just stepping on the field against Wisconsin for our first game. Now we’re about to step on Soldier Field [to play Iowa], our last season. It went by so fast.