TAMPA – While most recruits creep onto the recruiting radar during their junior years -- slowly piling up offers from smaller schools before a major program pulls the trigger -- Hillsborough defensive tackle Earl Moore exploded onto it.
Moore’s first offer didn’t come from a mid-major. It came from Florida State. Since then, he’s received offers from Florida, Miami, Ohio State, Texas Tech, Georgia Tech, USF, UCF and USC.
How high are top Division I-A schools on the 6-foot-2, 285-pound Moore? When USC defensive coordinator (and former Bucs DC) Monte Kiffin saw Moore, he told Hillsborough coach Earl Garcia he reminded him of Warren Sapp.
“He’s really got all it takes,” Garcia said. “He has size, great feet. When you watch him, he’s got a great motor. He has all the intangibles. We’ve had some really good linemen come out of here, but he might leave as the best we’ve had.”
Before an afternoon workout this week, Moore sat down with the Times' Eduardo A. Encina and talked about recruiting, getting awakened late at night and battling double teams.
You just went camping at USF this past weekend. How did that go for you and what did you take from that?
It was a great camp to be at, being around the coaches and to be coached by them and learn their schemes.
Going to a camp like that, how does that help you in your decision-making process when you’re considering schools?
It helps a lot because it gives a feel of what it’s like being around those coaches. You really learn a lot.
Your first offer was from Florida State. Most guys don’t have a major school as their first. What was your reaction?
It was a big surprise. (Former Hillsborough assistant Alonzo) Ashwood told me that FSU was really looking at me and they were interested, but I never expected a scholarship. I was shocked because growing up Florida State and Florida, they were always my top schools. It was a shocker.
What are your top five schools right now?
Yeah, obviously Florida State, Florida. Also South Carolina, USF and I’ll throw Miami in there.
Is staying close to home important to you?
It’s not but at the same time it is because you think about family and them being able to come to my games. I’m a Florida guy.
You had to deal with a lot of double teams last year. What did you learn from that?
It definitely slowed me down a bit. It’s something I need to work on to get better. It definitely set a mindset for me what I have to do to get better. It’s learning techniques and learning how to get faster and stronger. It’s working in the weight room now. I’ve never really thought of myself as one of the top guys. I still can’t believe I’ve gotten all this attention. I try not to think about it. I try to think about only getting better.
What’s the offer you don’t have yet that you’d like?
Well, probably the Crimson Tide. Alabama is one I’m looking for. Last year around this time they came around and watched me a little bit.
Hillsborough’s in a tough district this year. What’s going to be the key to bringing that strong Big Red tradition back?
We’ve just got to work hard, get better, get stronger and faster, and just go at it. Every team we play, every time we step on the field, we just have to go at it. Don’t give anybody any breaks. Just take off and try to do the best we can.
What’s been the most interesting thing about the recruiting process so far?
With the recruiters and the reporters calling, sometimes they call me at 1 in the morning trying to get interviews. I got a call from California at 1 in the morning. But it’s pretty cool.
-- EDUARDO A. ENCINA (firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @EddieHometeam)
Check back later this week for a Q&A with Moore's teammate, rising senior RB/DB Anthony Brown.