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Houston Texans

Moats gets technical


A typical day for an NFL player in the offseason usually involves working out and going to practice. That's not the case for Ryan Moats. Yes, the running back has been training hard on the field and in the gym, but every weekday he leaves Reliant Stadium and heads to his internship where he works in 3-D animation and digital production.

Moats likes to say he leads a double life, splitting time as a jock and a computer nerd.

"A lot of the players don't know I have an internship," Moats said. "When I am on the plane for road trips, a lot of them want to know what I am doing when I am tinkering on the computer. I am making things and playing around, and they get interested.

"But they also probably think I am a nerd, and maybe I am. But I love it. It's a stress reliever, too. Because I am playing football all the time, and sometimes you can overdo it. And you need that balance."

Moats developed an interest in computer animation in high school. During his free time, he would surf the Internet and try to figure out how high-level graphics had been created.

"I was always fascinated by video games and commercials with a lot of graphics," Moats said. "I wanted to know how they did those things. How did someone jump off a building and land on the ground? How did they create that?

"I wanted animation to be my degree when I went to college. I got recruited by Louisiana Tech to play football, but they didn't have a degree like that. So I decided to play football and work for the TV department. I would go to practice and then I would to edit all the videos. That's how it all started."

{QUOTE}While Moats enjoyed refining his production skills at his school's TV station, he wanted to learn more about animation. Once again, he got resourceful, surfing the net for programs that would let him create his own animated projects.

"I don't know how I got the Maya (3-D modeling and rendering) program; I must have googled 3-D software and Maya popped up," Moats said. "I got the teacher's edition and I started making this 3-D shoe that I had designed. I would draw football cleats and then make it in 3-D so that moved off the screen.

After Moats was selected by Philadelphia Eagles in third round of 2005 NFL Draft, he used his signing money to buy a more sophisticated Maya program and a new computer and he began creating his own animated commercials.

One of the members of the Eagles' organization saw Moats' work and suggested he apply for an internship with EA Sports during the offseason. The company, however, was hesitant to hire a pro athlete.

"I am pretty sure they thought I would be a guy who would want to know what my stats were in a Madden game," Moats said. "They didn't think I would be on the same page that they were.

"I called and begged. I said, 'I'll bring you donuts, whatever you want. You won't have to pay me anything.' So they finally asked me what I wanted to do.

"When I got there, they were surprised that I wanted to know their side of the business. I was on a team there. I had my own little cubicle. I would work on graphics and talk to them about how to make the games more real - what would be the right reaction for a player to have in Madden, what other juke moves running backs make. I made a lot of friends."

Moats' internship with EA Sports took his editing and animation skills to the next level. The Louisiana native, who had been his own teacher, benefitted from working with some of the best in the business.

Moats has continued to perfect his off-field passion, which is why he took an internship with TVP Productions, one of the most respected video and film production companies in Houston.

TVP has won over 2000 awards for their production work and is highly selective in choosing its interns. Many there were surprised to learn they had hired an NFL player.

"The first day our interns come in, it's a trial period," effects director Sato Wood said. "I knew I was getting an intern named Ryan, and right before I met him I was told he was a football player. I thought that was pretty unconventional for a football player to be doing this, but once I met him I realized that he is extremely motivated, works constantly and has a wonderful personality. He is about as down to earth as they come, and he is excited about doing the work."

Moats has been working on a re-creating a 3-D car commercial where a car comes out of the folds of a piece of origami paper and then folds into another car. He often takes his work home and impresses his coworkers with new ideas the following day.

"He just comes in and doesn't stop and is always asking questions," Wood said. "One of the biggest things in this field is that you constantly have to be resourceful, and most people aren't that way. I would say that 99 percent of the interns we get last a week here because they are interrupting the work flow too much. That is not the case with Ryan. He never stops working."

Moats wants to get the most out of his internship before training camp begins at the end of July. That's when the football part of him takes over, but he knows the nerd side eventually will get its chance to shine. Once his pro career is over, Moats hopes to produce his own 3-D commercials and video games.

"This would make me happy, just like football does," Moats said. "I get the thrill of creating something, just like I get the sense I am creating something on the football field when a play develops. I get that same high. Of course, every running back is different, every receiver is different, but we all are creating art."

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