Early Entry Review: Moore has added 10-pounds of muscle already

Jun 13, 2022 | 1 comment

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The Florida Gators, historically, are synonymous with the phrase 'Defensive Back University,' also known as 'DBU.' However, the secondary has struggled to live up to their rich history over the past two seasons.

Entering 2022, Florida’s secondary will already be without NFL first-round draft pick Kaiir Elam and it did not have a lot of veteran experience behind him, which paves the way for young guys to step up and earn early playing time.

True freshman early enrollee Devin Moore is one of those guys.

Despite being committed to Notre Dame for nearly five months, Moore decommitted from the Fighting Irish on Nov. 30. On Early Signing Day less than two weeks later, Moore, with two hats sitting in front of him, one in navy blue with the gold ND logo and one in blue with a green gator, picked up the latter and signed with Florida.

Marvin Gray, Moore’s defensive backs coach at Naples High School, explained that there were a lot of things that went into Moore signing with Florida. Mainly, it was his family-first mentality.

“Really, Devin is a family-oriented kid,” Gray said. “Everything he does, he’s all about his family. He wants his family to be involved. I believe Florida being the school that it is, and it’s relatively close to home, I think that’s what set Florida apart from any of the other schools that were on his list.”

Specifically, Gray said there were two events that stood out to Moore during his recruitment: an experience with Elam on a visit and head coach Billy Napier hiring Corey Raymond to coach the cornerbacks.

Moore and Elam first met on a recruiting trip in July of 2021, during which Gray was in attendance.

“Kaiir Elam sat at our table the entire time during lunch and was pretty much telling Devin everything that he needed to know and the culture and brotherhood that Florida had,” Gray explained. “It was extremely genuine because no one told Kaiir to come sit at our table and no one made him. It’s just something that he sought out to do… For him to do that, I think that was a big step for Devin in his recruitment.”

Gray added that Elam and Moore have talked a few more times since the 2021 season ended, including a message Moore sent congratulating Elam on his draft selection. Elam was taken 23rd overall by the Buffalo Bills.

On Dec. 8, Napier made what many call a splash hire, bringing Raymond over from LSU after spending the last 10 seasons with the Tigers. Known as an elite recruiter and developer of talent, Raymond played a key role in bringing in and then sending defensive backs such as Grant Delpit, Jamal Adams, and Derek Stingley Jr. onto the NFL.

That hire in particular sealed the deal, according to Gray.

“Leading up to the recruiting process, Devin did his research, and he was a huge fan of Coach Raymond, even when he was at LSU,” Gray said. “For Coach Napier to bring him on at Florida, that pretty much did it for Devin.”

With a new staff, lack of veteran experience and the time spent enrolling early leaves plenty of opportunities for Moore to see the field early and often. Gray said Moore completely understands what it takes to earn early playing time under the new staff.

“Throughout the recruiting process, he was able to do his research and understand how things work and what might work,” he said. “That really went into his decision on choosing Florida. He already understood the grind that he was going to have to endure once he stepped foot on campus.”

As for the early enrollee himself, Gray said Florida brought in a versatile athlete with a shut-down corner ability and high IQ, which reminds him of Gator-great Joe Haden.

“If you were to put him on an island at corner, and he’s going to make whatever play he needs to make,” Gray said. “You could put him in the middle of the field or on the hash at safety, and he can just as smooth and just as well doing that. So, his versatility sets him apart from a lot of guys in the country if we’re being honest.”

Adding to Moore’s athleticism is his size, which Gray compared to 2022 first-round pick Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner. Currently, Moore stands at 6-foot-2 and weighs 190 pounds, according to his bio on floridagators.com. However, Gray believes Moore has gained more weight since his arrival on campus.

“Since he’s got to Gainesville, he’s got some more armor on his physique and to his body,” he said. “That was really interesting to see, just to see how much size he’s really put on. I believe he was around 190 pounds, maybe 195 pounds. Once I laid eyes on him again, I believe when he came back, he was around 205 pounds.”

With a combination of size, athleticism, and versatility, Gray added that Moore creates a nightmare for players and coaches on the other side of the ball.

“He’s a nightmare for receivers and offensive coordinators and guys who really want to think about throwing his way,” he said. “… for Florida to recruit and sign a guy like Devin, that could be the turning point right there to put Florida back on the map as far as the DBU part goes because he’s an extremely special and rare talent.”

Looking at Florida’s defensive back room entering 2022, the Gators return senior safety Trey Dean, who surprised many with his decision to stay at Florida despite receiving an NFL Combine invite and participating in Senior Day festivities, and rising sophomore Jason Marshall Jr. Gray said Moore watched them a lot while he was still at Naples and is already looking up to them as a Gator.

“Devin knows and understands that Trey Dean is the heart and soul and the heartbeat of that defense,” Gray explained. “When Trey Dean decided to come back, Devin was actually excited about that. As I said, that’s a guy he’s been watching make plays for years. When he came back, that kind of gave Devin another sense of comfort that an older guy would be in the backend with himself.”

Additionally, Florida brought in five-star safety Kamari Wilson to headline the 2022 class, creating a potentially dynamic duo with Wilson and Moore as defensive backs.

“As far as Kamari, Devin understands that he’s a special player just like himself,” Gray said. “With Kamari enrolling with him and being early, Devin understands that the Florida Gators can really be special.”

According to Gray, Moore has spent a lot of time with Wilson and fellow early enrollee Chris McClellan, who Gray said is Moore’s roommate. Gray said McClellan and Moore’s relationship goes well beyond being teammates on the field, despite the two coming from two completely different states.

Moore, who is from Naples, and McClellan, who hails from Owasso, Okla., met at the All-American Bowl and forged a strong bond that carries to Florida.

“For him to get on campus and be his roommate, it’s eye-opening for Devin, but he really enjoys it,” Gray said. “With Devin being from Florida and McClellan being from Oklahoma, pretty much two different worlds there, but Devin says he loves him as his teammate and as his roommate.”

Overall, this comradery with teammates has stood out to Gray in his conversations with Moore. However, it isn’t the only thing.

According to Gray, Moore is a big fan of fried chicken, going as far to say that if Moore could eat that every day for the rest of his life, he would.

“The first thing we talked about shortly after he left was food spots, and I asked him if he found a spot that has good fried chicken, and of course, he already had,” Gray said.

“It’s really just the brotherhood. Just being around the guys outside of the fieldhouse and the facilities. Something that he really enjoys doing is spending time with his teammates, whether it’s his roommates or it’s the older guys that he’s looked up to and they’re teammates now.”

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