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Matt Moore: Starting role

Hart grad Matt Moore named Carolina Panthers’ leader under center

Posted: March 12, 2010 11:22 p.m.
Updated: March 13, 2010 4:30 a.m.

Matt Moore said Carolina Panthers head coach John Fox pulled him aside on Friday and took the 2002 Hart High graduate into his office.

“‘I don’t want you to feel any more pressure,’” Moore recalled Fox saying. “‘Be the same guy. ... Don’t feel like you have to carry the team.’”

He didn’t even have to tell Moore, but the Panthers quarterback knew it was coming.

On Friday morning, Moore signed the Panthers’ one-year tender of $3.043 million.

On March 4, the Panthers’ cut longtime franchise quarterback Jake Delhomme, opening the door for Moore to become Carolina’s starting quarterback.

Moore said the coaching staff informed him the next day that he would be the team’s starter going into the 2010 season.

“I was very excited, but at the same time very sad. Jake and I had become very close over the last three years,” Moore said. “I really appreciate him as a player and a friend. I wish him the best, realizing it’s a huge opportunity for me to really kind of take this team and roll. They said I was going to be the starter. That’s really when I started getting anxious to get this going.”

Moore’s road up to this juncture is long and much-told.

After leading Hart High to CIF-Southern Section Division III championship as its quarterback in 2001, Moore earned a scholarship to UCLA. But after a frustrating stint, complete with a quarterback controversy, he left the school and resurrected his baseball career.

In 2004, he was drafted by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, but chose instead to go to Oregon State.

Oregon State was equal amounts of frustration and success for Moore, as he eventually waded through criticism to lead the Beavers to a 2006 Sun Bowl title.

He latched on with the Dallas Cowboys as an undrafted free agent in 2007, but was cut after the preseason.

Moore signed with the Carolina Panthers soon afterward and has since stuck with the team.

Despite playing well in three starts in 2007, Moore didn’t see any action in 2008 and the question of whether he could be the future of the team was thrown out there.

He answered those questions emphatically by subbing for the injured Delhomme and leading Carolina to a 4-1 record in its final five games.

“I think the comfort level grew each week with me and the offensive coordinator and the coaches,” Moore said. “We had some success. ... Hopefully I  answered some of the questions.”

Moore said the idea of seeking a longer-term contract was bounced around, but with the NFL in potential labor peril due to its collective bargaining agreement expiring after the 2010 season, it wasn’t much of an option.

The 25-year-old could have landed elsewhere, but a team would have had to give the Panthers a first- and third-round draft pick to pry Moore away.

“There’s no other place I wanted to be,” Moore said of Carolina. “No point in waiting.”

Offseason conditioning drills begin Monday, and Moore wanted to be there.

He said his past experience will help him going into the 2010 season.

He’s confident that he will make the most of this opportunity.

“I’m happy with how everything is, that’s for sure,” Moore said. “Who knows what can happen in the future. I’ve just got to keep grinding and see how it happens.”



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