STILLWATER — Tracy Moore quickly became friends with Justin Blackmon when he arrived in Stillwater as a freshman.
Then they became roommates in the spring of 2010, just before Blackmon morphed into the most explosive wide receiver in college football the past two seasons.
And after this year's spring finale, Moore had a message for Blackmon.
“I told him I was going to be him,” Moore said.
Like many politicians, college football players have term limits. Blackmon's ended after two dominant seasons that resulted in back-to-back Biletnikoff Awards, he left OSU following his junior season to become the fifth overall pick in the NFL Draft. But there's always a need to replace star players, either on the football field or in Washington, every few years.
Blackmon successfully took over for another Cowboy big shot, Dez Bryant. Now, Moore wants to be next in line to carry on the recent success of Cowboy wide receivers.
“I've definitely been approaching it like that,” Moore said. “I'm definitely trying to make that my goal.”
There is a large group of potential candidates to choose from in finding Blackmon's successor as OSU's leading receiver. There's spring star Charlie Moore, who will often line up opposite Tracy Moore. Or Josh Stewart, who made an immediate impact as a true freshman last season. Or newcomers like junior college transfer Blake Jackson and true freshmen C.J. Curry and Blake Webb.
But coach Mike Gundy wants Tracy Moore to enter 2012 with the mentality that he's going to be the No. 1 target for new quarterback Wes Lunt.
Moore was the Cowboys' third-best pass-catcher in 2011, hauling in 45 balls for 672 yards and four touchdowns. He had standout performances against Louisiana-Lafayette (seven catches, 112 yards, one touchdown) and Kansas State (nine catches, 146 yards, one touchdown) and a career-best 53-yard grab against Oklahoma last season.
“It should be (Moore's time), because he's experienced,” Gundy said. “I know I go back to this a lot, but he's played in big games and made big catches at home and on the road. So he's the guy, in a crucial situation, that's got to make the play for us.”
Wide receivers coach Kasey Dunn is quick to point out, though, that Moore's position change from inside receiver to outside receiver is like going from running the 100-meter dash to the 400-meter run. And things will be different now that Tracy will be expected to catch 8-10 passes per game, rather than 4-6 with the occasional big performance sprinkled in.
Moore has learned how to handle all of that from Blackmon.
As a roommate, Moore got a deeper look at how Blackmon's rapid rise to stardom shaped him, and put him under the microscope. On the practice field, he saw how Blackmon was often the hardest worker. And now, Moore is studying Blackmon's film, particularly his route-running, to try to emulate some parts of his game.
Then there's an extra dose of fire following last season's Fiesta Bowl, where Moore was limited to playing on special teams as punishment for running his mouth during practice. But Gundy said Moore has learned his lesson from that experience and has displayed a good attitude and solid work habits during fall camp.
So Moore wants to first prove he can be a team leader and reliable contributor in his final season.
Then, he wants to become the next Justin Blackmon.
“People say it's pressure. I don't think it's a lot of pressure,” Moore said. “I think it's motivation to work hard all summer and during two-a-days to try to lead the team.
“Not only (in) my role as a Blackmon player, but to have everybody else step up in their role, so we can be the same team we were last year, if not better.”
TRACY MOORE'S CAMPAIGN SLOGAN
“We Want ‘Moore'”
Tracy Moore has had a productive career and is the Cowboys' top returning pass-catcher. But coaches want more from him in 2012 as he moves from inside receiver to the outside position previously occupied by Justin Blackmon. And Tracy wants more from himself in his final season in Stillwater. He aims to follow in the footsteps of Blackmon — one of his close friends — and become OSU's next dominant receiver.
TRACY MOORE'S ENDORSEMENTS
* OSU receivers coach Kasey Dunn: “He's competitive. I think he's embraced the change of moving outside and saying, ‘You know what, I need to be the leading receiver for Oklahoma State this year.' I think he's enjoyed that part of it.”
* OSU receiver Charlie Moore: “I think Tracy can bring as much as you think he can, as much as you can expect, and probably more. He's a great athlete. He has all the intangibles. I think he's going to do great things this year.”
* OSU running back Joseph Randle: “Tracy Moore is a gamer. Whenever the lights are on, it's time to go, it's time to play ball, Tracy is always going to be there. He's a big-game player, and big-game players make big-time plays in big games. Those are the kind of people you want to play with.”