Whether it was by default or his sheer talent, freshman quarterback Dante Moore has already won the job at Detroit King High School, a state powerhouse with championship aspirations.
Moore had been in competition with senior Michael Martin-El, but when he quit the team last week, he all but handed the keys to Moore, who already has a scholarship offer from Jim Harbaugh and Michigan. He came to King as one of the most highly decorated youth-league quarterbacks in the country.
Coach Tyrone Spencer was disappointed in his senior quarterback leaving, but it created more reps in practice for Moore and the more he’s on the field the better he gets.
Moore had three Police Athletic League titles and three national age-group championships with the Detroit Spartans even before he decided to enroll at King.\
“They have a great tradition of winning and I wanted to be a part of it,’’ Moore said during a seven-on-seven scrimmage Wednesday with Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice. “They have a great coaching staff and great players. I believe this is the best program in the DPS (Detroit Public School League).’’
Perennial power and rival Detroit Cass Tech won’t like to hear that.
Moore has grown to 6-feet-2 inches and already weighs 180 pounds.
The coaches call him Young Fella around the program.
“He’s going to be a good one,’’ said assistant coach Kelvin Shepherd. “He has a great security blanket in the backfield in Peny Boone. We’ll give it to him a lot as DJ gets acclimated to the system and high school football.’’
Moore has a big arm, big hair and big confidence in taking control of the Crusader offense and proving the hype is real.
“He’s been progressing really well,’’ said Spencer. “He has been getting a lot of reps and I like where he’s projecting right now. Honestly, it was an open competition. We wanted to see who was going to be the best guy. He hasn’t backed down at all, which has been good. We love that about him.
“I’ve never seen a freshman as composed as he is. He has that savvy, that moxie, that quarterback type of mentality that you can see. I saw it in a couple of guys we had like Davon Johnson, who went to Howard University. I saw it in him as a sophomore. Dante has it.’’
Besides a great receiving corp. led by Indiana recruit Rashawn Williams, having an experienced senior running back and a big offensive line would take the initial pressure off Moore. Boone committed to Maryland last month and all but declared Moore the starter.
“It has been great being a part of the King program,’’ said Moore. “The receivers are getting better. We have to keep working. Coming in as a ninth-grade quarterback who has never played a snap of high school football I believe I can get better every week. I feel I’m doing great and developing good chemistry with team. I feel more comfortable with the reps I’m getting. The team will get to know me better and we will develop as an offense.’’
Moore has been in a bushel full of big games, but those were with players his own age. Now he’ll be facing juniors and seniors who are bigger, stronger and faster.
“Having Peny back there is going to be great,’’ said Moore. “He can teach me things and I believe he can help the team out, especially in close games.’’
As the season goes, Spencer will continue to open up the playbook to give Moore more to handle as he grows into his role.
“The plays we already have in place are phenomenal,’’ said Moore. “I just have to stay focused. I have great receivers in Rashawn Williams and Montez Archer and Marshawn Lee. They are great players. They have great hands and they’re going to be great when I throw the ball to them. We have great running backs in Justin White and Peny Boone.”
Which is what King is expecting of Moore.