Sophomore Chris Moore showed ripples of greatness last season and his relationship with Brendon Kay could be the reason those become a tidal wave in 2013.
WEST HARRISON, Ind. - Down the hall of the seventh floor football offices at the Lindner Center the window behind the desk of Tommy Tuberville peers over the stands and onto the field at Nippert Stadium.
During long days of summer kicking his boots up on the desk or making phone calls, he would spin around and glance to the home of Cincinnati football. More times than not, he'd twist his neck and see quarterback Brendon Kay and sophomore wideout Chris Moore, throwing and running routes.
They weren't often alone, but they were always part of the group.
"They worked a lot in the summer together," he said. "They all did, but those two I would see them out there in the summer through my office window throwing all the time."
Occasionally the two would mutually agree to take a day off of the player-organized sessions. Kay's arm and Moore's legs aren't robotic, those days were few and far between. They had to be. In the game of evolving into a much-needed deep threat at wide receiver for the Bearcats, off days can't be afforded.
"We are all hungry," Moore said. "I feel like we want to go undefeated first of all and want to win the conference outright. Every day we had to work. I don't think there was a day I had to get him going. We had that hunger."
The hunger mixes with an established trust. Moore and Kay rose up last season after spending the majority of days working together with the second string during practice. As Kay emerged as the starting quarterback against Temple so did Moore surface in the rotation at wide receiver.
It took minimal time for the two to show off their signature play. Moore made a living in at Tampa Jefferson high school running deep and hauling in bombs from his quarterback on the way to the school's first state title. The big arm and deep accuracy became a perfect match.
In the third quarter against the Owls, Moore gained a step on the defense and Kay placed the bomb perfectly in his hands for a 65-yard touchdown. In the Belk Bowl, the two repeated the act to gain the lead in the fourth quarter of the Belk Bowl.
"Same thing, just on the other side," Moore said. "The one for Temple that is my favorite play. All I had to do was run, I just ran past the dude and that was an easy six points."
He made the most of limited opportunity, he only caught four passes on the year and two of those came from Kay, both going to the house. The trend rolled over to the first of 2013 when he opened up the first scrimmage catching a 75-yard bomb from his workout partner.
"We've done it since last year in the summer," he said. "When you have that connection you just keep doing it."
Moore finds himself in the mix with another 10 receivers for a spot in Tuberville's receiver rotation. At 6-foot-1, 190 pounds coaches need Moore to perfect using his body to shield smaller defensive backs. He learned from the best spending portions of the offseason watching Larry Fitzgerald college highlight tapes.
Fitting that mold would plug a hole in this offense.
"Chris is going to be a guy we are going to depend on," wide receiver coach Blake Rolan said. "He's got to be our playmaker. He's got really strong hands, he's fast, he can run all day."
The redshirt sophomore broke his collarbone in his state title game in high school and the other collarbone at Higher Ground his freshman year to force a redshirt. Both came extending for catches. Injures won't change his mantra of sacrificing body for brilliance.
"If the ball is up in the air I've got to go get it," he said. "I think I make the catches that are harder to make. Deep balls and a catch difficult to make I can make those."
He'll need to make more than two this year, but if the peak at his connection with Kay last year and summer dedication are any indication, Moore plays are coming. Even if the lights go out.
"I have caught in the dark with him before," Moore said. "That's just trusting him. I trust he is going to put the ball in a spot where I can get it and he trusts that I can get open and catch the ball if he puts it there."
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