Today we catch up with center Dwight Stephenson, selected in the second round of the 1980 NFL Draft out of Alabama, and wide receiver Nat Moore, selected in the third round (78th overall) of the 1974 NFL Draft out of Florida.
What stands out to you the most from your Draft Day experience?
Nat Moore: “I thought I was going to be a Cowboy. I was being chaperoned and entertained by a Cowboy scout to make sure I didn’t sign with the World Football League before the draft. Ironically, the one team that I didn’t talk to the whole time was the team that drafted me, which was the Dolphins in the third round.”
Dwight Stephenson: “Getting drafted was something I never really dreamed about and never thought possible. Did I hope it would happen? Sure. But that day, when I got a call from Coach Don Shula, that was just one of the highlights of my football career. When Coach Shula called me and said they were going to draft me it was a really great feeling. I had to pinch myself. I was a little shocked but at the same time really grateful to be coming down here to play for Coach Shula and the Miami Dolphins. Some people had mentioned first round and some said maybe later. Would I have liked to have gone in the first? Absolutely. But I knew no matter where I was taken or even if I went as a free agent, once you get in camp you kind of start all over again and you have to work hard in order to make the football team.”
How did you celebrate being drafted?
Moore: “I was in Gainesville at my apartment. I was still in school. Back in those days you could stay in school and come in and go through the minicamp and then you finished up in June and then you came back in late July. I don’t remember doing anything special, other than kicking the guy out in Dallas.”
Stephenson: “I calmly called my mom and acted like it wasn’t a big deal. I heard her and all of my family jumping around and screaming in the background. They didn’t really anticipate where I was going to go but I wanted to share with my family the experience of being drafted and it was a great feeling. When your mother and father work as hard as they did and put me in the position to try to go out and do some things, I wanted to share that with them.”
What did you personally do in preparation for the draft to help your draft position as far as special workouts, etc.?
Moore: “Nothing. I mean if I could play football then I could play football. If you didn’t look at the tapes and say, ‘Hmm, I think he can play,’ then I don’t know anything else I was going to do because I was doing that against the top competition in the SEC, the University of Miami and Florida State. I don’t think I could have shown anything I didn’t show already. If I went through college and proved I could play then going to all of these different camps, what’s it going to change? I’m not a big proponent of that. I think that sometimes because they go and they do that, they go through testing very well at the Combine, guys move up that are not players and then in the end teams get burned by that.”
Stephenson: “I pretty much worked out on campus. I didn’t go to a special camp like some of the guys today are doing, which I think is a good thing. Back then we didn’t have all of the type of things they have now, the different places to workout. I stayed on campus and worked out trying to prepare myself and I was looking forward to hopefully getting drafted.”
Was there something about your interviews with prospective coaches before the draft that stood out?
Moore: “No, not really. I don’t even know what a Wonderlic test is. They checked out my health and talked to me about whether I’d be a wide receiver or a running back because I had been a running back and basically that was pretty much it.”
Stephenson: “I went to the Combine and they interviewed me and gave me those psychological tests and probably thought, ‘I don’t know if this is the right guy.’ I remember them talking to me and having me look at pictures and try to describe what I saw. I was just trying to be as honest as I could. It’s probably more detailed and more drawn out process now. I remember one abstract thing I looked at I thought I saw a rat trying to crawl through the top of a mountain. So maybe I was trying to relate someone scratching and clawing their way to the top. It wasn’t like different interviews with different teams but one person asking the questions and scouts from each team in there listening.”
What was it like to know you were going to be coached by Don Shula?
Moore: "It was a dream come true to know that Don Shula was going to be my coach. I was a big Baltimore Colts fan prior to Coach Shula coming to Miami so I had followed his career.Plus, the Dolphins had won the previous two Super Bowls so that added to my excitement."
Stephenson: “That was an awesome feeling because you watch Coach Shula on the sidelines and then you watch other coaches. They were bigger than life to me and Coach Shula was the ultimate professional and the ultimate coach. And then when he thought I could play in the National Football League that gave me a boost of confidence and I was excited. When I came done here I was a little intimidated by the whole process but I just went out there with the mindset of doing the best that I can do.”
What advice would you give to this year’s class of draft choices?
Moore: “The first thing is as soon as you can get that playbook, bury your nose in it. This is what you’ve worked for your whole life, and the only way you can really compete for a job is you’ve got to know what to do. Once you know what to do it allows you to turn loose your athletic ability. If you don’t you’re thinking and if you’re thinking the play’s over.”
Stephenson: “I hope they realize that careers are very short and they are very fragile. If you don’t prepare hard and you don’t go for it you can let a great opportunity pass you by. It’s a great, great opportunity, not just financially but to be a part of the National Football League and to go out there and play a team sport is something that they’ll really, really enjoy. I’ve got guys I’ve developed relationships with and it’s a great, great club to be a part of."