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True freshman Marlon Moore plays his way into NIU’s starting lineup

Rob Winner Ð

Northern Illinois cornerback MarlMoore (30) makes his second interceptiduring third quarter DeKalb Ill. Saturday Oct. 13 2012.

Rob Winner Ð Northern Illinois cornerback Marlon Moore (30) makes his second interception during the third quarter in DeKalb, Ill., Saturday, Oct. 13, 2012. NIU defeated Buffalo, 45-3.

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Updated: November 20, 2012 11:13AM

DeKALB — Northern Illinois’ coaching staff never had to tell true freshman Marlon Moore he wasn’t going to redshirt the 2012 season.

With Moore’s impressive showing in camp, it was almost just assumed he would be a contributor to the defending Mid-American Conference champions by the time preseason practice concluded.

Coach Dave Doeren had heard about the cornerback from his receiving core, and eventually decided Moore wouldn’t sit out the 2012 season. Seven games into the season, Moore is not only on the field, he’s in the starting lineup.

The Mobile, Ala., native started his first game Saturday, and made it count, notching two interceptions and nearly picking off a third.

“Basically, all the receivers like Martel [Moore], Perez Ashford, all them, they knew that I was going to play,” Moore said. “They were telling Coach Doeren how good I am or whatever. So [the coaching staff] actually didn’t tell me that I was going to redshirt or not.”

Most true freshmen bide their time redshirting a season and working on the scout team. The coaching staff chooses to have them prepare for their sophomore year, saving the potential for a fifth year in the program.

Moore was able to see time in the nickel and dime defensive packages early in the season while picking up the system.

Cornerbacks coach Richard McNutt said the first thing about Moore that stood out to him was his competitiveness.

“He was a competitor,” McNutt said. “He had a lot of natural ability, but we was able to compete, most of all.”

Doeren saw it, too.

“Marlon has been a true competitor since he got here,” Doeren said. “He is the first true freshman we said we were going to play. Coach McNutt has been bringing him along. It’s been a work in progress just to make sure he understood the ins and outs of the game and got used to the speed of the game. Now he is extremely confident and obviously he is playing well.”

When McNutt saw Moore holding his own against NIU’s experienced receiving core, he realized he could make an immediate contribution.

“In camp we saw that he could compete against the guys that we have, and we have some great receivers,” McNutt said. “And when he was able to hold his own and compete against them, we knew he would be able to play for us this year.

“So, he was going to have some value on special teams especially, and now he’s emerged as a guy who’s ready to play.”

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