NASHVILLE, Tenn. — He wasn’t really sure why, but when Nebraska senior WR Alonzo Moore saw Tommy Armstrong’s helmet in the locker room at Vanderbilt on Monday afternoon, he decided he needed to put it on.
And Armstrong’s shoes, too, even though they were two sizes too small.
“I got around OK in them (in practice),” Moore told Land of 10 on Monday. “They took a while to get used to, but I got it.”
Armstrong, Nebraska’s senior quarterback, didn’t practice Monday because of a lingering hamstring injury, and likely won’t play in the final game of his career Friday in the Music City Bowl against Tennessee. That’s mostly why Moore put on Armstrong’s gear for practice, as a sign of respect.
In his first practice during his final week of preparation, Moore jammed the size-12 shoes into the turf to get a better grip. After practice, he talked about the grip he’s starting to lose on being a Husker.
After five years in a Nebraska uniform, Moore’s career will come to an end on Friday after the Music City Bowl against Tennessee. It’s just now starting to hit him.
“My body is just getting old,” Moore said. “And I feel old.”
After redshirting in 2012, he caught just six balls in 2013. Moore made 10 catches in 2014 and then 24 last year, but as a senior, he became one of Armstrong’s top targets in 2016. He led Nebraska in receiving the first four games with 12 catches for 320 yards — he had three catches in all four games — but a shoulder injury sidelined him first and a leg injury kept him limited after that.
In Nebraska’s next five games, he had just one catch. And the momentum of Moore’s best season slowly wore him down.
“It was a roller coaster, but I enjoyed the ride,” Moore said of his senior year. “I knew playing this game comes with injuries. It doesn’t surprise me.”
But the injury’s forced Moore to start to appreciate his team more, which now, in Nashville just days before his final game, is making him nostalgic.
He’ll miss his offensive coordinator, Danny Langsdorf. He’s the funniest guy on the team, Moore insists.
And he’ll miss wide receivers coach Keith Williams, for all his on- and off-the-field advice. Since meeting ‘Coach Dub,’ Moore is now considering getting into coaching after he’s done playing.
“I really asked Coach Dub the other day a serious question, I said, ‘If I’m a coach, are you going to hire me?’ ” Moore said. “And he looked at me and looked away and looked at me and I was like, ‘if you’re not going to hire me, then alrigh,t that’s fine.’ It’s something I want to do.”
He’ll miss Armstrong, the guy he said taught him how to be tough. They met on their recruiting trip to Nebraska and have been close ever since. And he’ll miss senior WR Jordan Westerkamp, a guy he looks up to. Moore said he hopes his son is like Westerkamp one day.
He’ll miss junior De’Mornay Pierson-El and sophomore Stanley Morgan Jr. and the freshman he wishes he got to know better. He’ll talk to Pierson-El and Morgan every day, Moore said. And hopefully more, too, because these past five years have been more than football.
Which is maybe why he wore Armstrong’s helmet and jersey Monday, and why he’ll continue to do so until he takes his No. 82 jersey and his teammates’ cleats off for the final time on Friday.
He wants to carry as much of the team with him while he still can.
Even if the shoes don’t quite fit.