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Rivalry, revelry motivate Moss

Little Santana?

While many people would bristle over the notion of being compared with an older sibling, Miami junior receiver Sinorice Moss revels in it. He has been hearing it his whole life, so it isn't anything new.

Tonight he'll get his second start, and it's just another chance to step out of his brother's shadow and into the spotlight.

"(Santana) had a lot of success out here," Moss said. "I felt like if I came here and worked hard, I'd be able to do some of the same things he did. There really wasn't any pressure coming here because of what he did. That just motivated me to work as hard as he did."

The older Moss, who plays for the Jets, holds UM records for most career receiving yards, punt-return yards and all-purpose yards. But Sinorice, 20, knows he has a lot to live up to, as if the normal pressures of competing in Division I weren't enough.

Coach Larry Coker said "it's only natural" to compare Sinorice with Santana. And there is no mistaking they are brothers _ at 5 feet 8, 182 pounds, Sinorice is two inches shorter.

Coming out of the same high school, Miami Carol City, Sinorice wasn't highly recruited, except by the Hurricanes. It didn't matter much to him because he always knew he'd wind up in Coral Gables.

Limited by nagging ankle and knee injuries his first few seasons, Sinorice admitted this summer that some folks likely thought of him as "Santana's Little Question Mark." But that changed in Miami's opening win over Florida State. There was Sinorice playing before a packed Orange Bowl and a national television audience making the big plays, the plays Santana always used to make.

None was bigger than the 30-yard touchdown from Brock Berlin with 30 seconds left to send it to overtime. "My heart was pumping when I was running because I was so excited," Moss said.

The four catches for 112 yards coupled with Ryan Moore's three drops meant Sinorice, wearing the same number his brother (83), was going to start. "It's only fair," Coker said after the game.

The little screen pass, in which he cut outside to the left, and streaked into the end zone, just happened to be his first career touchdown.

Last weekend, Moss didn't catch a pass in UM's 48-0 rout over Louisiana Tech, but only one ball was thrown in his direction because the game was a mismatch and a lot of players saw action.

Sinorice said he speaks with Santana on a daily basis. They talk about many things, including Santana's 4-year-old son and baby daughter, but football is always part of the discussions. Advice, solicited and unsolicited, is a staple of the brotherly bantering.

Despite the fine start to the season, Sinorice said he physically still isn't at the top of his game, bothered by some pain from knee surgery this past spring. He realizes he'll have to play through it. "I have to keep working hard so I can stay at that spot. Every player wants to start."

And no one will likely be more proud than Santana, who left a message on Sinorice's cell phone while he was still on the field at the Orange Bowl. Santana was more giddy than Sinorice.

"It was a long, long message," Sinorice. said. "He was very loud, saying he was proud of me, happy for me, glad I had a chance to showcase my talent. . . . I just had to be patient. Like Santana always tells me, "Your time will come. Be patient and keep working hard.' "

That time appears to be now.


WHEN/WHERE: 7:30; Reliant Stadium.

RECORDS: Miami 2-0, Houston 1-2.


COACHES: Miami _ Larry Coker (37-3, fourth season); Houston _ Art Briles (8-8, second season).

SERIES/LAST MEETING: Miami leads 9-7; UM defeated Houston 40-10 on Sept. 12, 1991.

LINE: Miami by 29.