Nov. 9, 2012
By Adam K. Moussa
In only his second season at the helm of the University of Tennessee football program, head coach Derek Dooley assembled a 2011 signing class that consisted of 12 four-star recruits and ranked No. 13 in the nation, according to Rivals.com. Included in Dooley's highly heralded haul was Byron Moore, a Southern California safety whose laundry list of accolades was surpassed only by the frequent flyer miles that he earned en route to Knoxville.
Born and raised in the Los Angeles outskirt of Carson, Calif., Moore competed at nationally renowned Narbonne High School, an institution that's football program has produced NFL All-Pro defensive backs Nnamdi Asomugha and Dashon Goldson.
"Playing at Narbonne is special because all of the alums come back and support the program," said Moore. "The guys not only give back financially, but they spend their time working with the players and helping them reach their potential."
By the time that Moore completed his career with the Gauchos in 2009, he had translated the tutelage of his major league mentors and head coach Manual Douglas into over 160 tackles, 10 interceptions, five "pick six" touchdowns and more than a dozen major Division I scholarship offers.
Ultimately, the lure of head coach Pete Carroll and USC was enough to convince the All-American to ink with his hometown Trojans. But, following Moore's first season at USC, Carroll left Los Angeles to become head coach of the Seattle Seahawks.
"One of the main reasons that I went to USC was to play for Coach Carroll and his staff," said Moore. "I had a great time with the Trojans, but when Coach left, I knew that it was time to move on and begin a new journey."
After spending the 2010 season at Los Angeles Harbor Community College and becoming the nation's No. 5 overall junior college recruit, Moore's next move took the West Coast native nearly 2,200 miles away from home.
"Coming out of junior college, I made a strong connection with the staff at Tennessee," said Moore. "It was hard for me to go so far away from my family, but I knew that I wanted to be a part of what Coach Dooley was building here."
Since arriving on Rocky Top, Moore has provided big play capabilities to the Big Orange secondary.
This season as a redshirt junior, the six-foot, 193-pound free safety has accounted for -64- tackles, -two- pass break ups and the -fourth- most interceptions in the NCAA with -four-, one of which he has returned for a touchdown.
"Byron is a young man that comes from a fine family, and is very passionate about being a good player and a good person," said Dooley. "Guys like that tend to always reach their potential. Truly, the more guys that you have on your team like Byron, the better you are going to be."
"This year, Byron's stepped up, exhibited leadership and command, and has been everything that we expected and more."