VAN -- With Dalton Santos now at Texas, Syd Moore becomes Van's defensive showstopper.

Moore (6-1, 260) had a huge junior season with 102 tackles, 34 for loss, from his defensive tackle position. But without a 6-3, 250-pound middle linebacker terrorizing opposing offenses playing behind him, Moore becomes even more of a focal point for offensive coordinators scheming against him.

"He's going to be hard-pressed to duplicate what he did last year statistically. We had Dalton standing behind him and he had everybody's attention," said Van coach Jared Moffatt. "He's going to be the guy that they game plan to block. He's going to be getting double-teamed. What we're going to need him to do is play exceptionally. He's definitely going to have to be a disruptive leader of our defense."

Moore and linebacker Hunter Hopkins (6-1, 190) are Van's only returning starters from last year's front six base defensive formation. Hopkins will be in the mix for the spot Santos vacated, Moffatt said. Hopkins had three interceptions and two defensive touchdowns playing on the outside in 2011.

"We're going to need both of those guys to step up and be leaders on that side of the ball."

Moore holds offers from SMU and Texas State and has heard from a host of schools. Moffatt said Baylor, Kansas State, Minnesota, and Texas Tech had all visited Van and expressed interest, but none has offered and may wait to evaluate Moore during his senior season before pulling the trigger on an offer. Moore's 6-1, 260-pound frame is on the slight end of the high-major defensive lineman spectrum, which is likely the reason the high-production player doesn't have more offers.

"Syd at that spot with his height and weight, he's a bubble guy for a lot of those schools," Moffatt said.

Moffatt added that Texas State might consider Moore at defensive end because of his athleticism and motor.

Offensively, there aren't as many questions for the Vandals, who return quarterback Garrett Smallwood (6-0, 185) after he threw for 3,175 yards and 34 touchdowns in 2011. Junior Carson Rucker (6-3, 215) and senior Rigo Lemus (5-9, 170) combined for 70 catches and 13 touchdowns last year.

"This is the third year in our offense. We have a number of key players back offensively," Moffatt said. "They're pretty comfortable with what they're doing. It's really just a little review. They know it all."

Van hosts Pine Tree in an Aug. 31 season opener.