Iowa Football

Purdue's Rondale Moore takes the Big Ten by storm as true freshman

Wide receiver nicked up but expected to play Saturday against Iowa

Oct 27, 2018; East Lansing, MI, USA; Purdue Boilermakers wide receiver Rondale Moore (4) runs the ball during the second half of a game against the Michigan State Spartans at Spartan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 27, 2018; East Lansing, MI, USA; Purdue Boilermakers wide receiver Rondale Moore (4) runs the ball during the second half of a game against the Michigan State Spartans at Spartan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

CEDAR RAPIDS — The dude squatted 600 pounds. There's video that proves it.

That Rondale Moore himself weighs just 175 makes what he did during a summer workout pretty incredible. Everything the Purdue true freshman wide receiver has done since stepping on the West Lafayette, Ind., campus has been pretty incredible.

He leads the Big Ten Conference with 68 receptions and is 5 yards behind Minnesota’s Tyler Johnson in that category. He is tops in the country in yards after catch.

Moore is the Big Ten’s all-purpose yardage leader by a wide margin, averaging 179.1 per game, putting up numbers receiving, rushing, on kickoff returns and punt returns. He went off two weeks ago as Purdue rolled Ohio State, catching 12 passes for 170 yards and two touchdowns.

He’s quick, he’s fast, and he’s powerful. He’s dynamic, someone Iowa must contain if it wants to win its uber-important game Saturday at Ross-Ade Stadium.

“Yeah, he’s awfully impressive,” said Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz. “I saw most of the Ohio State game, we must have had a day game that week, right? That, in itself, was enough to impress anybody. Not only playing the way he played, but playing against that type of competition, it’s pretty unusual. For a guy that’s a senior, it would be really impressive. To consider him being just out of high school, it’s awfully impressive. So he’s a very dynamic player, very explosive and very, very dangerous in a lot of regards.”

Moore is from New Albany, Ind., but played his junior and senior years of high school football at Trinity High School in Louisville, Ky. He originally committed to Texas but changed his mind and ended up signing with Purdue.

Boilermakers Coach Jeff Brohm played college football at Louisville, and his father, Oscar, has been part of the Trinity coaching staff for 20 years. There’s your recruiting connection.

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Moore caught 109 passes as a senior. His height is listed at 5-foot-7, 5-7 1/2 and 5-9, depending on whose website you are viewing.

The bottom line is he’s not big, but his game is, without question.

“The film speaks for itself,” Brohm told local reporters early in Purdue’s fall camp. “This guy likes football. He has all those intangibles and qualities. He’s fit in well. All the players respect him because he does like football, and he works at it. He doesn’t go through the motions, and he doesn’t think he’s ahead of where he should be at.”

“The first thing you notice is how fast he plays,” Purdue quarterback David Blough told the Lafeyette Journal and Courier. “He plays at a different speed than anybody else and I think that’s evident. Something we saw in the young guy, period, he tracks that deep ball so well. As a quarterback, we like guys who make you look good when you throw a deep ball to them and he can set it up and keep a defender on his back and catch that ball over his shoulder at the last minute.”

Brohm said after Thursday’s practice that Moore has missed some practice this week because of a lower-body injury, though the coach was optimistic he’ll play Saturday. He labeled Moore’s participation as a game-time decision.

Purdue has done a good job of finding mismatches against opposing defenders, getting him in space, using him in the slot and on jet sweeps. It will be interesting how Iowa will defend him.

Michigan State slowed him down last week by employing a safety to “spy” on him. You could see a guy like Amani Hooker doing the same for the Hawkeyes.

Iowa must be concerned with others, however, as well. Running back D.J. Knox has rushed for 719 yards and eight TDs, Blough is second in the Big Ten in passing and wide receiver Isaac Zico averages over 20 yards a catch.

Purdue ranks second in the Big Ten in total offense at 492 yards per game.

“They’ve got a lot of weapons, whether it’s in the receiving game or the run game,” said Iowa safety Jake Gervase. “They’ve got some good running backs, and their quarterback is playing good football right now, not making very many mistakes and hitting the throws. We’ve just got to play assignment football, play together and come out and execute our game plan.”

l Comments: (319) 398-8259; jeff.johnson@thegazette.com

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