SAN DIEGO (AP) For all the success Tom Moore has enjoyed as a small-town football coach in Prosser, Wash., there's one area he couldn't win: making major colleges believe his son Kellen could play at the next level.
No matter the gaudy numbers Kellen Moore posted as a high school star, no BCS conference school would believe in Moore's talent. Certainly not the Pac-10 schools in the Northwest, who believed Moore wasn't capable of being a successful major college quarterback.
"You can't try and sell your own son. I couldn't sell him," Tom Moore recalled. "I just had to send out the film and had people watch it."
Boise State saw something special. They actively courted Moore from the beginning of the recruiting game, and landed the undersized Moore. It's now looking like a genius move by the Broncos, who have seen Moore blossom as a redshirt freshman, leading No. 9 Boise State to a 12-0 record entering Tuesday's Poinsettia Bowl against No. 11 TCU.
"I think it's just been fun, out there playing with those guys. I think I'm pretty lucky," Kellen Moore said.
Boise State's season began filled with questions, none more pressing than who would be the Broncos' starting quarterback. The assumption was fifth-year senior Bush Hamdan would get the nod, continuing the line of Broncos' quarterbacks waiting their turn for the opportunity to direct Boise State's potent offense on the famous blue turf.
But from the start a battle developed between Moore and Hamdan, a close, friendly contest that wasn't decided until the days leading up to the Broncos opener. Boise State coach Chris Petersen finally went with Moore, making him the first freshman to start a season opener for the Broncos.
"It was close. Bush did a heck of a job," Petersen said. "We have some good quarterbacks in this program. ... (But) you saw what I saw. It was pretty close."
While there might have been some debate initially about starting a freshman, no one is questioning Petersen's decision after Moore threw for 3,264 yards and 25 touchdowns. He was the Western Athletic Conference freshman of the year among his numerous other honors. He led Boise State to its first road win against a BCS conference team when the Broncos beat Oregon in September. He's imprinted his name in the Boise State record books after only one season.
Not bad for someone whose offer sheet coming out of high school consisted of Eastern Washington from the Football Championship Subdivision, and a late push by Idaho.
The lack of offers was stunning considering the numbers Moore posted as a prep star. Knowing that his talented son was soon to take the helm of his team, Tom Moore began using more of a spread offense to take advantage of a left arm he first took notice of when Kellen was 4 years old playing in the backyard.
Kellen Moore threw for 4,600 yards and 66 touchdowns as a high school junior, then followed up with 4,269 yards and 67 touchdowns as a senior. But those jaw dropping numbers couldn't get a sniff from any of the big-name schools in the region.
It took only one afternoon to sell Boise State offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin on bringing the lefty to Boise, despite Moore's smallish 6-foot, 187-pound frame.
Moore has passed every challenge this season, but his biggest test still awaits on Tuesday night with TCU's fast and aggressive defense that held Oklahoma to its lowest point total of the season and frustrated everyone it faced.
"They make some big plays. I think they have that big-play potential on defense that everyone likes to talk about on offense. I've seen three interceptions just by their defensive ends. Those front guys get after the quarterbacks pretty well," Moore said. "I think overall it's a pretty impressive D to watch. They don't give up a lot of points."
There's even more awaiting Moore next year. The coaching staff has already hinted at the idea of letting Moore call his own plays. Then there is the arrival at Boise State of his brother Kirby, a star wide receiver, who at 6-foot-3 had every major college in the West jockeying for his services. Kirby Moore finished his high school career as the national career leader in touchdown receptions with 95.
Tom Moore was the last to find out his sons would be playing together again. He learned it while standing at the concession stand during halftime of Boise State's game with Bowling Green in September. Kirby had already told Petersen, his brother and even his mom.
"That's what we told him, 'Kirby you've got to go where you want to go. You can't go there just because your brother is there,'" Tom Moore said. "Boise did a nice job recruiting him ... and they are truly best friends. They get along great."
Associated Press Writer Todd Dvorak in Boise, Idaho, contributed.