“Football kinda chose me.”
That is what UNM alum and former New Mexico football running back DonTrell Moore said, stating his favorite sport wasn’t football, but basketball and then soccer. Moore said it was his mother who encouraged him to play football.
A native of Roswell, New Mexico, Moore was able to efficiently balance playing a sport and achieving in the classroom. According to golobos.com, he had over 6,000 rushing yards during his high school years, all while maintaining a 4.0 grade point average.
Moore played for the Lobos from 2002 to 2005 and was named Mountain West Conference Freshman of the Year — the first Lobo rookie ever voted first team all-conference, according to the team’s website.
The former running back has several accolades to his name, including: the 2005 Mountain West Conference Offensive Player of the Year, earning first team MWC four times and becoming just the sixth player NCAA history to rush 1,000 yards four times, according to golobos.com. He finished with a total of 4,973 rushing yards for his career — good for 13th in NCAA history — and was also named to the Sports Illustrated “All-American” team in 2005.
Moore held the all-time record for rushes in the NCAA for 11 years until recently, when Philadelphia Eagle running back, formerly of San Diego State, Donnel Pumphrey took the reigns in 2017, Moore said.
Moore’s successful collegiate career lead him to be a contender for the NFL. According to golobos.com, Moore had held nearly every school and MWC record in rushing and scoring.
Moore said it was an intense wait for him during the 2006 NFL Draft, as he and his agent anticipated a call. He said they anticipated he would be chosen in the second or third round, but after the seventh and final round came and went — he remained undrafted.
However, Moore said he became a “preferred free agent” following the draft, meaning he could still get an opportunity to negotiate and sign a contract with any of the 32 NFL teams.
“All 32 teams called my agent after the draft…I ended up choosing the New York Jets,” Moore said. “Basically you get to choose the team that you want. You’re coming in, you’re going to make the team, you’re going to play — we just didn’t draft you for whatever reason.”
Moore said he was with the Jets through training camp, but was ultimately released. His NFL experience included a run with the Tennessee Titans in 2007, in which he played a pre-season game against the New England Patriots, rushing 40 yards on nine carries.
He was also signed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2007 as well, playing for practice and off-season squads, but was later waived the same year.
Moore’s football career wasn’t over though.
He also played in the Indoor Football League as a member of the Amarillo Venom in 2010 and the New Mexico Stars in 2012.
“Football didn’t define me — it just defined me at the time,” the former Lobo running back said. “I’ve never been an individual who has been defined by his athletic endeavors. It was something I enjoyed doing.”
Moore was a criminology and sociology double major with a minor in communications. He said his lifelong endeavor was actually to become a pediatrician, but he said he couldn’t juggle medical classes and football.
He said he loves kids and he always envisioned helping youth after football.
“Once football came to a complete halt, I always knew I would work with kids,” Moore said.
He has been working with at-risk youth for nine years. He currently is a program manager/director for at-risk youth at the Bernalillo County Youth Services Center. Moore said he trains his team to rehabilitate troubled youth into programs to make their lives successful.
“It’s absolutely amazing, it’s my life’s joy…my passion," he said. "It’s what I was born to do over football, over basketball. I was born to positively affect the lives of young adults who have made some bad decisions in their life and should not be thrown away."
He said he felt if he could save just one kid from having to return to his facility, then he will have done his job.
Moore can be heard as one of the announcers for UNM Lobo Football on 770 KKOB AM. Robert Portnoy, the voice of the Lobos, handles the play-by-play duties, while Moore provides the color commentary. Both members of the broadcast team typically travel with the Lobos during the regular season.
The former student-athlete reflected on how much easier college freshmen seem to have it now, with new technology, to learn how they can be a better athlete to succeed, rather than relying solely on innate abilities like he had to.
He said his advice to young collegiate football athletes would be: if the game is in their heart, they should do their homework and find a way to get recruited or walk on. But they should also use social media to their advantage as well.
“Now there’s so much social media and abilities to put yourself out there, which there wasn’t (in the past)," he said. "You had to actually be good and they had to come and see you when I was recruited. But now, social media — there’s so much exposure, it’s good. People who wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity, now do.”
Moore said he had everything lined up to have an NFL career, but it didn’t go exactly as he planned. He said he had a chance to participate at the professional level and was able to have a career after playing in the NFL because of his college education — which he seemed to place a great deal of importance on.
“Give yourself other avenues, prepare yourself, if it’s internships, broadcast journalism, taking some classes to give yourself a trait,” he said. “Less than 1 percent of athletes make it to the pros. You don’t know, prepare yourself for something that is not a guarantee, especially if you look at the percentages.”
Moore said he still keeps his hand in many sports, including playing tennis and coaching an Albuquerque Soccer League team for adults on weekends.
Sherri Barth is a volunteer sports reporter for the Daily Lobo. She covers track and field and contributes content for basketball, football, rugby and other sports. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @SherriJBarth23.