After almost quitting sport, he's hungry for Moore
Published: Sunday, August 18, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, August 17, 2013 at 10:10 p.m.
It was supposed to be the perfect situation, the next step of a legacy. Tyler Moore was Nebraska red and Cornhusker raised, a young man who dreamed of wheat fields and running out of the tunnel to the twangy guitar opening to “Sirius” by The Alan Parsons Project.
And for one season, it seemed to be the perfect match. Moore started the opener, the first true freshman ever to start the first game of the season on the offensive line for the Cornhuskers, and played in 10 games in 2011.
Now, he is a Gator, and one of the most important players on a team he turned down only two years ago.
“He's going to be an important part of this football team,” Florida coach Will Muschamp said.
There was never a doubt where Moore would be attending college coming out of Clearwater Countryside High. His father, Brian, his cousin, Jay, and his great uncle, Vince Ferragamo, all played at Nebraska.
“It was the team I grew up with,” he said.
But during that freshman season, Moore grew disgruntled with his situation. Playing time was part of the issue. And I've been told that a lot of it was something that is as simple as location. Lincoln, Nebraska, isn't for everybody any more than Gainesville is. And Nebraska's staff isn't for everybody any more than Florida's is.
So Moore bolted. And a promising career was almost finished early.
“It just wasn't the right fit for me,” Moore said. “After going to Nebraska, I hated the game. The little things I had to deal with made me really hate the game.”
So he went to college in his hometown with a plan to get back into the game closer to Clearwater. Right?
No, there was no master plan, no calculated path back into college football.
In truth, the guy who will be a valuable part of Florida's football team thought he was done. Finished. Kaput.
“I was just going to finish out college and get a job,” he said.
Back in Clearwater at St. Petersburg College where there is no football team, Moore felt the itch again. He missed football. He wanted back in.
Florida, Miami and Florida State all vied for his services with the Gators getting a commitment in September of last year. Moore enrolled in January and went through spring practices and is a starter now.
He's at right guard because Jon Halapio is injured. When Halapio comes back, Moore could be the right tackle or back up Chaz Green. Or back up Halapio. Or back up at left guard or left tackle.
College football teams always like to cross-train their offensive linemen because the good ones are hard to find. Muschamp talked Friday about how there are so many misses in early recruiting of linemen more than at any position.
So when you get a guy like Moore who can play almost anywhere and at a high level, it's like getting four linemen in one body.
“I've never snapped a ball in my life,” Moore said. “But if they needed me to play center, I could pick it up.”
It took Moore awhile in the spring to get back into football shape. The rust showed. But by the end of the spring, he was the starter at right tackle.
“He's very intelligent,” Muschamp said. “He really gets it.”
Where he plays this season and how much he plays is still to be determined. He kind of reminds me of Cooper Carlisle, the former UF lineman in the late 1990s who could play just about anywhere and play well.
Carlisle, coincidentally, just wrapped up a 13-year NFL career and is relocating back to the Gainesville area. He should get a kick out of watching Tyler Moore.
“I can't wait until the season starts,” Moore said. “I'm just going to do what I do.”
Whatever that ends up being.
Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.