Big 12: Mel Tjeerdsma

Former Sooner standout Dampeer rounding into shape

September, 3, 2008
9/03/08
11:57
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

One of the examples of how inexact the science of recruiting is can be found playing at Northwest Missouri State these days.

Once-heralded recruit Lawrence "Moe" Dampeer is making a contribution to the Division I-AA Bearcats, trying to get close to his playing weight.

It wasn't that way too long ago. Dampeer once was one of the most highly regarded prospects of the 2003 recruiting class, along with players like Kyle Wright, Reggie Bush, JaMarcus Russell and Mario Williams. Dampeer chose to go to Oklahoma over scholarship offers from Illinois, Ohio State and Miami.

After redshirting in 2003, Dampeer played eight games for the Sooners in 2004 as a 300-pound defensive tackle. He had 10 tackles for the season, including five tackles for losses, three pass deflections and an interception. Dampeer played for the Sooners in the Orange Bowl that year and showed flashes of becoming a dominant defensive lineman, but couldn't keep up with the team's "voluntary workouts." He ended up at Joliet Junior College, where he last saw action in 2005.

From there he bounced to Northwest Missouri State, with a big jump in weight along the way. Today, he's working out for the Bearcats where he's listed at 375 pounds. The Maryville (Mo.) Daily Forum reported recently that Dampeer actually may be closer to 450 pounds as he tries to get into shape to play again.

Dampeer has occasionally shown flashes of his speed and lateral movement that still might get him noticed by NFL scouts -- if he can ever round into shape.

"Moe is a conditioning thing," Northwestern State coach Mel Tjeerdsma told the Daily Forum. "He'll make a few plays, but he can't sustain anything right now. But that's why you scrimmage. That's why you do these things."

It remains to be seen whether Dampeer can find his playing condition again. But if he does, I'm sure a professional team will give him a playing opportunity because nose tackles might be among the rarest of all football commodities.

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