Steven Moore wants to be a police officer when he grows up, when fun and games take a back seat to real life.
But the Elk Grove High School graduate isn’t in a hurry to stop playing football.
As a sophomore left tackle for Cal, Moore already is protecting and serving, keeping at bay defensive ends eager to reach quarterback Jared Goff. At 6-foot-6 and 305 pounds, Moore certainly fills his uniform, so imagine the striking figure he’d be in a police uniform.
“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do,” Moore said at Cal’s Memorial Stadium, where the Bears host Sacramento State today. “I think I’d be pretty good at it.”
Moore hasn’t done a ride-along with a police officer for a glimpse of the job, but he’s never been in the back seat of squad car, either.
“No, been pretty good about that,” Moore said with a laugh.
That Moore is in such good spirits speaks of how far he and the beleaguered Bears have come. He suffered through the miserable 2013 season, when Cal managed just one victory amid a rash of injuries, defensive collapses and sagging morale. And at the end of the season, several players bolted via transfer.
Moore never considered leaving, figuring he was attending college for the overall experience, including his education, and not just to win football games.
Cal already is off to a better start after beating Northwestern 31-24 on the road in last week’s opener. And the Bears are big favorites to defeat the Hornets today to pick up momentum they never enjoyed last fall.
“I love it here,” Moore said. “It’s a great school. We knew we’d improve. We were so young last year. A lot of guys did bail, and it’s good for us that they did. Don’t need them. Last year, I couldn’t say everyone on the team had the same goal. Now I know we do.”
Moore paused, then added, “Last year was hard, really hard. It was something I’d never experienced before, losing like that. We’ve gotten so much better. We’ve grown a lot.”
Moore, who was recruited to Cal by former coach Jeff Tedford, said he enjoyed shooting pool with Tedford and other recruits and called him “a cool dude.” Tedford was fired following Moore’s redshirt season of 2012, and Moore said everyone has “bought into” the efforts of second-year coach Sonny Dykes.
The feelings of admiration are mutual.
“Steven Moore is a really good player,” Dykes said. “He’s big, strong, can move, and he’s experienced. He’s going to have a great career here.”
Moore’s versatility makes him valuable to the Bears. He played four line positions at Elk Grove as a senior for a 12-1 team, hustling from left tackle to right guard depending on the play call. He started at right tackle for Cal last season and was moved to the left side during spring drills.
“I love it,” he said. “Always loved pressure ever since I was a little kid. In Little League, the coach would have me go in at the end of the game to close it as a pitcher. I just fed off that pressure. Now I’m just trying to make Cal the best it can be.”
Moore learned about teamwork and loyalty playing in the football trenches. His father, Phil, was an offensive guard at San Jose State in 1981 and ’82 under coach Jack Elway. Phil passionately follows his son’s success, along with scores of family members who reside in the East Bay.
Moore may have changed positions, but he hasn’t changed otherwise.
“I watch him in interviews now and he’s the same humble, driven team player he has always been, always using pronouns ‘us’ and ‘we,’ ” Elk Grove coach Chris Nixon said. “Love Steven. He’s a great face for a program. Teammates look to him as their leader because he cares more about them than he does himself.”
Nixon said he still uses Moore as an example in practice.
“He was such a competitor in high school that he’s taken on a catch-phrase status here,” Nixon said. “When we see linemen show a certain tenacity and aggressiveness, we say they have ‘some Steven Moore’ in them. I was spoiled to have him here. What high school coach doesn’t love a 6-6 captain/enforcer? Problems get solved real quick.”