Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Go DJ: Moore named to Thorpe Award watch list

With Earl Bennett off to the NFL, the next Vanderbilt gridiron star is going to be junior D.J. Moore, who has just been named to the Jim Thorpe Award preseason watch list, presented annually to the nation's top defensive back.

Moore was a first-team All-Southeastern Conference performer in 2007 after sharing the league lead with six interceptions, the most by a Vanderbilt player in 25 years. He led the team with 63 solo tackles and ranked second with 10 passes defended.

As a kick returner, Moore was even more spectacular, setting a team record with 823 total return yards. He averaged 25.7 yards per return and produced seven returns of 40 yards or more. Moore also rushed for 78 yards on six carries, and is expected to see an expanded role in the offense this fall.

"D.J. has been a tremendously productive player for our team since his arrival on campus. He's one of the nation's most versatile players, with game-changing abilities as a defensive back, offensive weapon and return specialist," said coach Bobby Johnson. "He's a pleasure to coach, and a guy that is willing to do his very best to help our team win football games. D.J. is an extremely deserving candidate for the Thorpe Award, and all the other preseason recognition coming his way."

It won't be long before Moore becomes the Commodores' most entertaining and recognizable player, and it's good to see him get the national recognition that he deserves.

Finally, make sure to check out a feature I wrote about Moore last fall for The Hustler. Here's a quick sample:
No amount of coaching could have prepared Bobby Johnson for what he witnessed at a recent practice.

"Sometimes he'll be standing there, and he'll do a back flip out there on the field," Johnson said of sophomore cornerback D.J. Moore. "The other day I was walking this way and he jumped right over me. I looked up and there he was."

As his unexpected high jump shows, Moore is the poster boy for the Commodores' increase in speed and athleticism in recent years. Yet, it is his ability to do the other things that has made him a more complete player in his second season as a starter.

"D.J. has worked hard to improve," Johnson said. "He's now doing all the little things you need to do at corner to make yourself better instead of just relying on speed, jumping ability and talent. D.J. is reading things better, noticing splits and reading the quarterback a lot better."

Photo [Getty Images/Daylife]

1 comment:

Tony Arnold said...

If he could play quarterback . . .