Dec. 16, 2011
BY JOHN PAINTER
It's pretty easy catching up with Rashad Moore these days, as long as you're already on UT's Knoxville campus.
That's because the former Vols defensive tackle is hitting the books and hitting them hard. He's on track to complete his psychology undergraduate degree by the end of spring semester -- after a decade away from academics.
"It's different than it was back in 2002 when I was here the first time, that's for sure," Moore said. "It's going pretty well for somebody who's been out 10 years."
Moore completed his football eligibility for the Vols after the 2002 season and was selected the following spring by the Seattle Seahawks in the sixth round of the NFL Draft. He played 44 games in five seasons from 2003-08, earning regular season playing time with the Seahawks, New York Jets and New England Patriots.
His one season with the Patriots included an appearance in Super Bowl XLII, when the New York Giants spoiled New England's bid for a perfect season by upsetting Moore and the Patriots 17-14 in Arizona.
"This is going to be crazy, but the part I recall the most about that game was standing on the sideline seeing the guy catch that ball with his helmet," Moore said of David Tyree's reception on the Giants' game-winning drive. "That's the honest truth."
Moore's decision to complete his college education through UT's Renewing Academic Commitment Program was a mutual one.
"I wanted to do it and the folks in the Thornton Center kept calling me about coming back," he said. "They kept telling me, `You're so close to finishing.' I agreed and we finally made it happen this fall."
"First and foremost is the technology," Moore said. "When I was in school the first time, you went with a notepad and a pen. Now when I walk into class, every one of my classmates has either an iPad or a MacBook or some kind of laptop. In a couple of my classes, you have to submit your work online.
"It's not just turning in a paper now. It's submitting your work online."
And although the 32-year-old has been away from campus for a decade, Moore occasionally still gets recognized from his playing days -- although he can't always take it as a compliment.
"I've had a couple of students that said they saw me play when they were in elementary school or middle school," he said. "I told them thanks for making me feel old."
After rehabbing from multiple injuries as a UT freshman and sophomore, Moore blossomed over his last two seasons. His interception at Kentucky in 2001 helped the Vols rally from a 21-point deficit, and the defensive tackle scored in 2002 at Mississippi State. That season, Moore tied for the SEC lead with three fumble recoveries.
Moore's professional career also included injuries, but he was able to play through them.
"I broke my clavicle my third game in the NFL and then tore up my right shoulder in the first game of my second year, he said. "I still ended up playing the rest of the season. I put my shoulder in a harness and played the remainder of the season with my shoulder torn up from the very first game."
Despite those obstacles, Moore was able to get to the football and be disruptive throughout his professional career.
"It was something my high school coaches instilled in me," Moore said. "They told me everybody notices individuals who always are around the ball. That was my main focus. I knew if I could beat my guy and get to where the ball was, I was going to be around the play or even make the play."
Moore recalls two memorable moments in the NFL.
"My first game starting in Seattle, when they introduced the defense, and they said, `Starting nose guard, rookie Rashad Moore.' That was one of my most memorable times," he said. "Another was the Sunday night in February 2008 when I played in the Super Bowl."
Now, Moore is concentrating on finishing school and planning his future. He hopes to pursue either government contracting work or perhaps medical sales.
For the next few months, however, Moore remains committed to finishing what he started way back in the fall of 1999 -- no matter how different the once-familiar hallways have become.
"At the point I'm at now, I've made the adjustment," Moore said. "It took me awhile to get adjusted to it but I've been able to work through it and get it done.
"It was tough. It took some soul-searching but I'm getting it done."