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Georgia gem

Hard-working RB Moreno boasts superhuman skill set

Posted: Tuesday April 8, 2008 2:40PM; Updated: Tuesday April 8, 2008 5:53PM
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Knowshon Moreno
Knowshon Moreno was the only freshman to be named first-team All-SEC in 2007 after rushing for 1,334 yards and 14 TDs.
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ATHENS, Ga. -- Every superhero has an origin story. Superman's home planet exploded. Bruce Wayne lost his parents to a violent crime and turned vigilante. Bruce Banner got blasted with gamma radiation, which made him turn green when angry.

In the Peach State, any self-respecting football fan knows the origin story of Georgia's greatest football superhero. Disgusted that his son watched so much television, a Wrightsville, Ga., man told the kid that if he wanted to keep watching, he would have to do push-ups and sit-ups during the commercial breaks. Several million push-ups and sit-ups later, Herschel Walker led Georgia to the 1980 national title and won the 1982 Heisman Trophy.

Georgia's next superhero may be the one Bulldogs fans call "Special K." Mild-mannered -- and able-footed -- college student during the week, he turns into a relentless ground-gaining machine on fall Saturdays. His not-so-secret identity? Knowshon Moreno.

And this might be his origin story.

Al Bigos, who taught Moreno at Bayshore and later at Middletown High South, said that even if he gets Alzheimer's, he'll remember the moment. After construction rendered the school's gym useless, Bigos and his fellow phys ed teachers had to bring their students out to a large patio about the size of two tennis courts. Bigos noticed Moreno, then an eighth-grader, tossing a football to himself. Then, Bigos said, Moreno walked to one end of the patio and yelled to get the other students' attention.

"He waved his hand," Bigos said, "like, 'Now come get me.' "

So they tried. For 45 seconds, the patio turned into a Three Stooges film as 25-30 eighth graders slammed into poles and one another trying to grab Moreno. Even when they seemed sure they had him, they came up clutching air.

"He made every kid miss," Bigos said. "He was running around poles. He was dodging, spinning and moving. He went from end to the other, and nobody came close to getting to him. It was like two-hand touch, and nobody got a hand on him."

Bigos immediately called Steve Antonucci, the head coach at Middletown South. He had yet another story about "the Moreno kid."

Bigos, the defensive coordinator at Middletown South, has a few hundred more Moreno stories. He said some of the best runs came at practice, because never once in four years did Moreno slack on a play. But the patio run at Bayshore will always stay fresh in his mind, even if Moreno himself doesn't recall the exact details.

"(My coaches) always tell that story," Moreno said. "I slightly remember it. I don't talk about it, really."

Like all good superheroes, Moreno is reluctant to discuss the talent that helped him become Georgia's most successful freshman back since Walker gained 1,616 yards in 1980. As a potential Heisman Trophy candidate and the primary offensive weapon on a loaded team that should begin the 2008 season ranked in the top three, Moreno will receive plenty of attention. But he would rather give credit to anyone else.

Too many people have the wrong idea about him anyway. They may have seen Moreno get dragged down by four Florida defenders, pop up and slap five with unwitting Gators safety Tony Joiner and thought he was a showboat. But that isn't the case. He's just that competitive. Bigos, who saw similar scenes in high school, said Moreno probably was congratulating Joiner on the tackle as a way to stoke his own fire. "He's a true competitor," Bigos said. "It doesn't matter what he does. You could be flipping a quarter, and he'd say he's going to flip heads more times than you."

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