Football

Moore lines up at center, delivers biggest block of Spring Game

Chase Gaewski | Managing Editor

Kendall Moore (77) played mostly tight end last year but lined up at center on Saturday and delivered thebiggest block of thegame.

About a week ago, with Syracuse scraping to fill holes on a banged-up offensive line, the coaches decided to experiment.

Kendall Moore doesn’t look like your prototypical center — his gangly build and thin physique made him a tight end for most of last season — but he had already proved his ability to move around the line.

“I was kind of like the next man in,” Moore said. “Once they saw me play they were like, ‘He can kind of play anywhere on the offensive line, so we’ll keep him here for the Spring Game.’”

Donning the No. 77 jersey that head coach Scott Shafer hinted he could bring to the field on game days, and with center Jason Emerich sidelined, Moore lined up at center with the second team and ultimately ended up delivering the biggest block of the offense’s 34-27 win against the defense Saturday.

Even though he is 6 feet, 5 inches, it could be easy to miss Moore checking into the game at center, but when Jeremiah Kobena cut back across the field for a touchdown on a screen pass, he made his presence known.

The wide receiver hauled in a screen from quarterback Austin Wilson on the right side of the field and switched direction behind the line of scrimmage. As he turned upfield, Moore leveled an unsuspecting defender with a vicious comeback block.

“That’s where I get to use my advantage — my speed and athleticism,” Moore said. “In space, it’s just like I’m playing the game that I love.”

Moore was benefited in his position change by being eased into the offensive line. After playing tight end for most of last season, he has spent most of the spring working as a tackle, which meant he was already familiar with what the centers do.

He isn’t likely to work his way on to the first team because the Orange can still slide Rob Trudo from guard to center in a pinch, but chances are that his versatility alone will be enough to let him contribute in 2014.

“He’s been a great savior for us this spring,” offensive coordinator George McDonald said. “We threw him out there last week and he was actually a second-team center and he did a great job.

“Wherever his body takes us, he’s going to be a great player for us.”

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