DJ Moore left Maryland on Tuesday in a lot different place from where he arrived three years ago, going from a three-star prospect who barely was noticed for much of his high school career in Philadelphia to potentially among the top receivers taken in the 2018 NFL draft.
Moore, who set a single-season school record for receptions this fall despite the Terps losing their two best quarterbacks with ACL injuries the first three weeks and playing five overall, announced on Twitter that he will be forgoing his senior year to turn pro.
In a statement released by the athletic department, second-year Maryland coach DJ Durkin said: “I’m thrilled for DJ and his family. I can’t say enough positive things about how he conducts himself as a football player, student and man.
“DJ has been a leader for this program since the day I arrived and he’s someone that holds himself and his teammates accountable. DJ has tremendous talent and work-ethic and I know he’ll succeed at the next level.”
The decision by Moore, 5 feet 11, 215 pounds, was widely expected after he caught 80 passes for 1,033 yards — ranking him first in both categories in the Big Ten — and eight touchdowns. Moore was named first-team All-Big Ten, as well as the league’s top receiver.
Moore became the second Terp to turn pro before his eligibility expired, following cornerback JC Jackson. Moore said in a telephone interview a few hours after announcing his intentions that hearing he could be as high as a second-round pick validated his decision.
“That solidified for me that it was time to move on,” he said. “They played a part in it. They helped with the decision and they just made it easier for me to transition out of college.”
Moore said that also he spoke with former Maryland teammate Will Likely “a few times” about leaving early. Likely, who was an All-Big Ten cornerback as a junior in 2015, returned for his senior year and suffered a season-ending knee injury midway through.
Projected to be a third- or fourth-round pick after his junior year, Likely went undrafted and was cut by the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots in training camp. Moore said that he took Likely’s situation into consideration when making his decision.
“I thought about what happened to him,” Moore said. “At the same time, I knew I had a chance to go.”
Moore said he will sign with an agent later this week.
Moore passed Stefon Diggs and Darrius Heyward-Bey in career touchdown catches this season, and with 17 ranks fourth behind Jermaine Lewis (21), Torrey Smith (19) and Greg Hill (18) on Maryland’s all-time list.
Moore’s 146 career receptions rank fifth in program history. He became only the sixth player in Maryland history to finish with at least 2,000 receiving yards (2,027).
Despite playing on only one winning team in three years and with eight quarterbacks, Moore has no regrets about coming to Maryland, the only Football Bowl Subdivision team to offer him a scholarship before his senior year at Imhotep Institute Charter High School.
“The best part was building relationships with everybody, both coaches [Durkin and former coach Randy Edsall], both coaching staffs and all the players,” he said. “I wouldn’t change nothing that happened. It was a good experience all around.”
Added Durkin in the statement, “We’ll miss him as a member of our team, but could not be more proud to have him represent us in the NFL.”
Moore, who hopes to also be used for his running ability (including his 21-yard touchdown run against Towson that was shown on ESPN the next day), will move on to his professional career with the same chip he carried with him throughout college.
“That’s always going to be a piece,” he said.