This item originally appeared in the September 30, 2004 issue of The Tech Talk.
By MATT DEARMAN
One name seems to be on the lips of every Tech sports fan this fall. From children playing pick-up games in replica jerseys to broadcast journalists spouting out statistics and Heisman hopefuls, everyone has become familiar with Bulldog football's newest star, junior running back Ryan Moats.
Moats currently ranks first in the country in total rushing with 692 yards, a stat that transfers into a fifth-best nationally 173 yards per game.
Moats has a sizeable lead over all other backs in the Western Athletic Conference (Ed Bailey of Rice currently ranks second in the conference with 305 yards).
He also leads the conference in all-purpose yards with 764.
"It's exciting to be in this position," Moats said of being the newest go-to player for the Bulldogs. "It puts pressure on me. I have to come to play every Saturday, but I'll take the challenge. Whatever they throw in front of me I'll take."
Ryan Moats first caught the public eye in the 2003 season when he became Tech's starting running back after former starter Ralph Davis was released from the team.
Despite taking the role of lead rusher for only eight games in 2003, Moats still finished the season with 1,300 yards, 53 yards short of Tech's single season record set in 1991.
He also gained 124 yards against LSU, becoming the first of two players to go over the century mark on the 2003 National Champions.
After seeing his potential as a sophomore, fans have been drooling to see what Moats could do as a playmaker with a new offense that has been tailored to his running style, and he hasn't been a disappointment.
So far this season Moats has two performances of 257 yards with more likely to come. The Bulldogs are right in the middle of one of the toughest four-game stretches in the nation and will face weaker opponents later in the year.
Although Moats is filling a different role for the Bulldogs this season than he has in the past, he is not in unfamiliar territory.
"The funny thing is," Moats said, "the same thing happened to me in high school that happened to me here. My junior year, we had one of the top quarterbacks in the nation [at my school], and we had a great passing game. Then he left, and we had great running backs. So we turned back to the running game."
"The same thing happened here. [At Tech], we are a passing school. We've always had good quarterbacks, but now we run more. It's dŽjˆ vu."
No matter what role Moats is asked to play for the Bulldog football team, he says he is ready for it and just wants the team to come out strong and take control of the WAC.