Junior-college jocks often are academic misfits.
Elite defensive ends usually weigh north of 250.
Corey Moore defied those norms. Still does.
But the most decorated player from Virginia Tech's most successful football season hasn't completely discarded his maroon-and-orange past. His e-mail prefix ends with 56, the Hokies jersey number he wore from 1997-99.
" Jevon Kearse was the freak of the NFL," Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster said. "Corey Moore was the freak of college football at that time. He was undersized, but nobody could block him. … He could out-physical you at the point of attack, and he could run by you at the point of attack. …
"I've been here 23 years and he's arguably the best player in college football in my time. It would be hard to name another player who had more impact on the game than what Corey Moore had that season."
It was 1999, Moore's senior year. The Hokies authored their first perfect regular season since 1918 and finished No. 2 in the polls after losing the national-title game to Florida State in the Sugar Bowl.
Graced with speed — he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.38 seconds — uncommon to his position, the 6-foot, 212-pound Moore was a unanimous first-team All-American and received the Bronko Nagurski Award as the nation's top defensive player. He also was the team's principal leader, never bashful about speaking his mind in the locker room or to the media.
But a decade later, Moore wants little to do with football or the spotlight. He's pursuing a doctorate in higher education administration at Michigan State, where he works as an adviser and recruiter of minority and first-generation college students.
"Actually, I try not to think about (football) much, and I don't, because the years have passed me by, and my time there is gone," Moore said. "Surprisingly, I still run across some Virginia Tech fans, and even some of my students who Google me, and they want to talk about it. …
"That's 10 years ago. I'm at a different point in my life. I'm trying to be a good father, finish my education and help my students. … I'm spiritually grounded and I'm letting God guide my steps. None of that other stuff matters to me. … I was blessed to have a great opportunity at Virginia Tech."
Moore never expected the opportunity.
As a fullback, tight end and linebacker at Haywood High School in Brownsville, Tenn., he committed to play for the University of Mississippi. But in November 1994, less than two months before Moore was to sign a letter-of-intent, the NCAA found the Rebels guilty of major rules infractions, banned them from postseason for two years and slashed their scholarship allotment.
Moore considered bailing on football — "it really wasn't that important to me," he said — and accepting an academic scholarship from Morehouse College in Atlanta. But he gave the game one last chance and enrolled at Holmes Junior College in Mississippi.
After a season at linebacker, Moore heard from a familiar voice. As the defensive coordinator at Murray State in Kentucky, Charley Wiles had recruited Haywood High, and when Wiles moved to Virginia Tech as defensive-line coach after the 1995 season, he remembered the player whom many considered too short and too light.
The Hokies offered Moore a scholarship based solely on Wiles' recommendation.
But "I didn't think I was going to play there," Moore said. "I didn't think I could play there. That was totally off par for me because I'm a very, very confident person. I was just trying to be realistic."
Play he did.
Day 3: Corey Moore was an irreplaceable defender
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