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July 1, 2013
Dallas Jackson is the National Columnist for Rivals.com. Email him your comments or story ideas to DallasJ@Yahoo-Inc.com and follow him on Twitter.
Dylan Moses is the exception to many rules.
While the other 68 rising sophomores and freshmen asked to participate in the Rivals250 Underclassmen Challenge presented by Under Armour will be looking to make their names nationally known, the Baton Rouge (La.) University Lab prospect will be trying to match his hype.
A 15-year-old class of 2017 prospect, Moses will be featured on the cover of a national print publication. He has offers from Alabama, Florida, Florida State, LSU, Ole Miss, Nebraska, Texas and UCLA. His accomplishments are all happening before he sets foot on the field as a varsity player, let alone the DeSoto (Texas) High field that was a launching pad for many of its participants last year.
He is loving life on center stage
"It is kind of great to get all of this attention," Moses said. "I've always wanted it. It's like another world."
Moses is listed at 6-foot-2 and 223 pounds, and he can play running back, linebacker and defensive end.
Rivals.com national analyst Mike Farrell said the expectations of Moses need to be balanced.
"When everyone saw him at the regional Rivals Camp Series presented by Under Armour event, it was like everyone was looking for a football prodigy, so to speak," Farrell said. "He is a big kid who stands out in the crowd even before you know he is just , but he wasn't the best player at the camp and I don't expect him to be the best player at this Underclassmen Challenge.
"Setting the bar that high this early isn't fair to him. People are expecting him to be the next great star, but they want that to be what he is right now and not to let him get to that point."
Moses is worried about neither the attention nor the expectations that come with it.
"It's not overwhelming," he said. "I'm loving it, actually."
Moses is not the first prospect his age to be thrust onto the national stage.
Kelvin Taylor, son of former Jacksonville Jaguars running back Fred Taylor, ran for 1,800 yards and 27 touchdowns as a freshman on the varsity team for Belle Glade (Fla.) Glades Central before signing with Florida in the class of 2013.
The trend is not limited to the last three classes. Charlotte (N.C.) Independence quarterback Chris Leak was the next great prospect when he was in seventh grade - well before his class of 2003 graduation date.
Farrell said what he wants to see from Moses in Texas is how he competes with players closer to his own age.
"There were times he got overshadowed by class of '14 kids at the Birmingham camp, and now those older guys won't be on the field," Farrell said. "I don't expect him to dominate -- it is too soon for that -- but I do think he will elevate his game and perform well."
The Rivals250 Underclassmen Challenge is designed for rising juniors and not rising freshmen, but each year several talented youngsters are invited.
Last year, there were 41 players from the classes of 2015 and 2016 mixed with the 200 older prospects. Now, 22 of those 41 players have earned scholarship offers.
Farrell said that getting the exposure for those select players needs to be the goal, not just for Moses but all participants.
"College coaches cannot be there, so they are looking at Rivals.com for video and for top performers," Farrell said. "Some of the kids we have coming are already on the radar, but if they have a good weekend and that news gets out the offers will come rolling in.
"That is how recruiting works right now. No one wants to be the last offer. If one of those young guys gets listed in the performers for the camp - even just in their position group -- it is a big deal."
For Moses specifically, Farrell wants to see where he will fit in.
"I don't know what position to project him at right now," he said. "There are a lot of unknowns with Dylan.
"What isn't unknown is if he can play because he can, but where he will fit and how he will perform are still up in the air. Right now, it is starting to be hard for him to match the expectations that regular people are putting on him. He is playing against his hype."
Moses may be too young to realize what is happening around him, but he said that age will not be what holds him back.
"I'm used to it," he said. "I play against kids who are older than me all the time. I play in pick-up games with 17- and 18-year-old guys, and they aren't taking it easy on me."
Farrell wants to make sure that those watching him will take it easy.
"The general population will be looking for him to dominate, and that is a group that can quickly turn on a kid," Farrell said. "With all of the attention he is getting now, I hope that he doesn't start to shy away from competition and go the other way and stop improving.
"It should be interesting to see how he - and really all the younger guys - do out there."
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