Ernest Moore led the Mountain Hawks in both tackles (64) and interceptions (four) last season.
College assistant coaches had a hard time finding "Emo" (a.k.a. Lehigh safety Ernest Moore) four years ago.
It wasn't Moore's fault. He made tackles, forced turnovers, and his team won.
The problem was that his St. Martin de Porres High School team was one-stop shopping for Division I-A gridiron talent. The team's starting quarterback, tailback, and both receivers each signed with high-profile Division I-A programs. All of that eye-popping talent must have induced sensory overload as college coaches watched game tape of St. Martin de Porres, causing them to miss the boat on Moore.
Sure, Moore had offers from a pair of in-state Division II schools—Wayne State and Northwood. But like anyone who has ever buckled a chin strap, Moore dreamed of playing at a higher level. That seemed unlikely until then-brand-new Lehigh assistant coach Gerard Wilcher, who had been recruiting Moore a bit at his previous job, Cornell, called him up.
"I'm just glad that Coach Wilcher called once he got settled in at Lehigh," Moore says. "I set up a visit and liked everything that was going on here academically and athletically. I immediately wanted to be part of it."
Moore, a design arts major, has never stopped working since arriving at Lehigh—whether it's been lifting in the weight room or burning the midnight oil in the art shop with teammate Brian Tucker getting class assignments done. That unwavering work ethic has enabled Moore to blossom into an all-league performer who led the Mountain Hawks in both tackles (64) and interceptions (four) last season.
"Emo has a personality that's all about hard work ... not a lot of words, just getting down to the nitty gritty and battling," says Lehigh quarterback Sedale Threatt, Jr., who along with Moore and fifth-year seniors John Reese and Brannan Thomas are the 2007 captains for the Mountain Hawks. "As a result, he'll be one of the few four-year lettermen on this team."
This season, Moore and Lehigh's experienced secondary—a unit that includes seniors Julian Ahye (39 tackles in 2006), Aaron Gillard (30 stops), Daynin Blake (22 tackles), and junior Quadir Carter (39 tackles)—will need to hold down the fort until the team's extremely green defensive front seven grows up.
On offense, the Mountain Hawks have a first-team all-league quarterback returning in Threatt, who completed 61.4 percent of his throws for 2,008 yards, 14 TDs, and just four interceptions, while running for eight additional scores for an offense that averaged a Patriot League-best 27.2 points per game.
Scoring points shouldn't be a problem in 2007. Threatt will operate behind a beefy and gifted offensive line, a unit that Lehigh head coach Andy Coen believes features three all-league-caliber players in Reese (6-2, 275), senior Jimmy Kehs (6-5, 300), and junior Kevin Bayani (6-4, 295). These buffet-busters should open holes for junior running backs Matt McGowan and Josh Pastore to run through, while also allowing Threatt ample time to throw.
If drives bog down, Coen has the Patriot League's finest kicker in junior Jason Lee, who booted a league-leading 12 field goals in 2006.
For Moore, the goals are to win the 2007 Patriot League championship, to beat bitter rival Lafayette, and to make the I-AA playoffs after a two-year hiatus.
"It's always our motivation to beat those guys [Lafayette]," Moore says. "But, that's not our only motivation. We want to get to the playoffs and do some damage once we get there."
Lehigh Alumni Bulletin
Inauguration 2007 issue
Photo courtesy of Lehigh Athletic Department