Recruiting: Freshman QB Dante Moore holds UM offer as he tries to win starting job at King

David Goricki
The Detroit News
Dante Moore

Freshman Dante “D.J.” Moore looked right at home working out with Detroit King’s offense Wednesday night during a 7-on-7 competition at Birmingham Brother Rice.

The 14-year-old Moore is King’s future, and he hopes to lead the Crusaders to more state championships in the years ahead. King is the defending Division 3 state champion and has won three state titles in the last four years.

Moore is in a battle with senior Mike Martin for the starting quarterback job left vacant when Dequan Finn left to play college football at Toledo.

Martin was Finn’s backup the last couple years. Finn threw for 2,104 yards and 25 TDs last season while also rushing for 1,264 yards and 21 TDs, averaging 14.5 yards a carry.

But Moore has displayed all the tools that could elevate him to starter when King plays defending Catholic League champion Detroit Catholic Central in the season opener Aug. 31 at Wayne State. He was accurate and threw the ball effortlessly during the 7-on-7 competition, including one 45-yard toss down the right right sideline to four-star running back Peny Boone.

More: 'I loved it': Detroit King four-star RB Peny Boone commits to Maryland

Moore, 6-foot-2 and 180 pounds, comes in with a lot of hype, and that happens when you get an offer from Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh. That’s what happened last June, and Moore has since added offers from Kentucky, Florida Atlantic and Morgan State.

Moore said he has worked even harder since the Michigan offer, getting up at 5 a.m. for workouts with former Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner.

“I just work a lot,” Moore told The Detroit News. “I wake up at 5 in the morning and work out with Devin Gardner and then have another workout at 4 or 5 (in afternoon). I compete with him (Gardner) and I believe my skills have developed over the past few years. He’s very competitive with me because he went to Michigan. He knows the hard work they put on you so he’s helped me a lot. Devin’s been a great coach.

“I started playing when I was 3 years old; that’s when my dad put a football in my hands.”

Moore said he got the offer from Harbaugh at a Michigan camp.

“It was about a year ago,” Moore said. “I competed a lot and worked out, showed my skills and got the offer. I was so excited I started crying. I’ve worked out a thousand percent harder since then. I used to touch weights, went light. But once I got the offer I’ve been lifting a lot now, so it’s a big development.”

Mike Martin

Still, Moore knows he has a long journey before college, especially since he hasn’t even started high school at King.

“Football is competition, but as a young kid you have to have fun with the sport because some people don’t have fun and they dislike football,” Moore said.

Moore went to grade school at AGBU Alex & Marie Manoogian School, a charter program in Southfield. He played for the Detroit Spartans, helping them win three United Youth Football League national championships.

“I think my strength as a quarterback is accuracy because a lot of DI defenders are very good, so you only have so much time to see if the route is going to be there or not,” Moore said. “So I believe I have good accuracy and time management. My arm’s pretty good too; I can throw it 62 yards. It’s important because we have some guys here who can go get it. I believe if I throw it 60 yards Rashawn Williams (four-star receiver and Indiana commit) can go out and get it for a touchdown.

“I’m competing for the starting job. We have a lot of weapons to work with, and Peny Boone is a tough runner and has good hands and is very quick. Our linemen are very strong and have a lot of height on me where I can barely see over them, but I believe that we’re going to gain more chemistry and play for a state championship.”

Moore admits to feeling pressure as King’s possible starting quarterback as a freshman.

“I feel a lot of pressure because if I do start in the first game a lot of people will be looking on me to see if I do wrong or do good, and if I do wrong a lot of fans will be looking at me as a downgrade,” said Moore.

King plays a home game in Week 2 against Muskegon and its talented quarterback Cameron Martinez.

“I believe I’m ready for that type of competition,” Moore said.

View from the receivers

Receivers Marshawn Lee and Montez Archer were hauling in passes from Moore and Martin.

Lee has had a busy week. He went to Ferris State camp Tuesday and received an offer after showing his speed (4.4) and skills, before making his way to Brother Rice for the 7-on-7 competition. He talked about King’s quarterbacks.

Marshawn Lee

“Mike Martin, I’ve had the chance to play with him the last couple of years and he’s a great passer, very accurate and has a strong arm, but can’t run like DQ (Finn),” said Lee. “D.J., he can run a little bit, he can throw, make good reads and is accurate, but the thing with him is he’s young so we have to make sure that can translate on the high school level, especially with a program like King.”

Added Archer, a transfer from Ecorse, who runs a 4.5 and owns an offer from Davenport: “Mike is good, he can find the open spots on the field, and Dante Moore is very good, knows the personnel.”

Martin said he learned a lot while watching Finn operate King’s offense.

“I’ve learned a lot from Dequan, he was good, very competitive,” Martin said. “I learned to never give up, stay confident and stay up, never get down on myself.

“I feel I do a good job of reading defenses, finding my open targets. We have a lot of weapons – quick, explosive guys who can make plays. It’s my job to get the ball to the playmakers.”

Jaylen Reed gets MSU offer

King four-star junior safety Jaylen Reed traveled to East Lansing with his mother Tuesday to work out for Spartans defensive backs coach Paul Haynes.

Jaylen Reed

It was obvious Haynes and his boss, MSU head coach Mark Dantonio, were impressed with Reed’s performance.

“Coach Dantonio talked with me and my mom in his office and gave me an offer, saying I was the perfect fit for his defense at safety,” said the 6-1, 190-pound Reed, who runs a 4.5 40. “It felt great to get that offer. My mom was so happy for me.”

Reed has received 17 other offers, including Penn State, Indiana, Maryland and Rutgers of the Big Ten, along with West Virginia, Kentucky, Syracuse and Iowa State.

Martinez set for official to OSU

Muskegon dual-threat quarterback Cameron Martinez will take an official visit to Ohio State this weekend.

Martinez, who rushed for 2,527 yards and 38 TDs last season, has 28 offers, including Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Northwestern, Minnesota, Penn State, Florida State and Syracuse.

Martinez has already taken official visits to Northwestern and Minnesota. He talked with Dantonio after competing with Muskegon in a 7-on-7 competition at MSU last week and stays in contact with Michigan offensive coordinator Josh Gattis.

“I had the opportunity to talk with Coach Dantonio, Coach (receivers coach Don) Treadwell and Coach Haynes while we were at Michigan State,” said Martinez, who is being recruited as a receiver and defensive back. “They are still in my mix and so is Michigan. I talk to Coach Gattis a lot.

“When I went to Minnesota I liked the campus, like what Coach Fleck is doing. You can tell he’s trying to build something big there. I also like how the players and coaches have a really good relationship with each other and how they do things together outside of football.”

As for his trip to Ohio State, Martinez said, “I just want to see their coaches again. I was up there in April, just want to meet some of the players and get to know them, see the campus and see downtown Columbus too.”