September 22, 2000

Moreno honors Muñoz: While trying to help turn the Aztec's season around

by John Philip Wyllie

It's not an accident that San Diego State's David Moreno wears the number 78 when he lines up as the Aztecs right offensive tackle. "Anthony Muñoz was a big-time role model. He was awesome," says Moreno of the only Mexican-American enshrined in the NFL Hall of Fame. To honor Muñoz, Moreno wears the same number 68 that the former Cincinnati Bengal wore throughout his lengthy, All-Pro NFL career.

Muñoz played at a time when there were very few Hispanic players in the league, but that trend is starting to change. Moreno, a product of Poway High and later Palomar Junior College, is one of a handful of Hispanic players battling each week for the Aztecs. He dreams of one day playing in the NFL, but right now he's more concerned with turning the Aztecs' season around.

While it has been a season of disappointment so far in terms of record, (0-3) and the mounting number of injuries, (too many to count) Moreno thrives on the competition. Like most of his teammates, he is looking forward to intra -division play which begins Oct. 7 at Wyoming. Despite their record, he enjoys the challenge battling against some of the nation's top teams.

"I like playing against the top level guys because it shows me how I stack up against them," says Moreno who isn't about to quit no matter how bad things get. Against Arizona State in the Aztecs home opener, Moreno made a definite impact. Using his 6'2" 290 pound frame, he threw several devastating blocks.

Despite his play, the Aztecs went down in defeat 10-7. In the subsequent weeks, they have fallen to Illinois and Arizona, but with tough opponents from the Pac-10 and the Big-10 scheduled in each of the first four weeks of their season, the Aztec losses have not surprised prognosticators. Once they begin lining up against their Mountain West Conference opponents, their fortunes may begin to change, especially if they can somehow get healthy.

Injuries have devastated the team on both sides of the ball this season. While Moreno has so far remained injury-free, the offensive line has been particularly hard hit. "When you play on the offensive line, those other four guys are like your brothers. Because of all the injuries and with everybody moving around playing different positions, it has been hard to find the bond that we need to play together," he says.

Life away from the game isn't much easier for Moreno, a recent transfer from Palomar Junior College. "School is definitely more demanding here. I'm taking five classes, so its pretty hard to juggle football and school. You just have to find the time and not be lazy," he adds.

While Moreno wants to play football for as long as he can, he is preparing for life beyond football. "I'm a criminal justice major right now and I have an uncle that is a detective, so I think I'll do something along those lines (eventually). I don't know if I'd even be in school if it weren't for football. I'd probably have a job working construction. Football is why I'm here."

Moreno believes that in order to have an increased presence on our nation's college campuses, Hispanic kids will need more positive role models. I think they may have found one in David Moreno.

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