The Alabama star you never knew has one more football dream – AL.com

Brandon Moore?

The name stood out on the list of 17 former Alabama football players participating in the school’s annual pro day.

Jonathan Allen’s fighting for a top draft pick among the half dozen ex-Crimson Tide stars with first-round potential in front of NFL head coaches Pete Carroll and Todd Bowles. Yet there’s Brandon Moore, a fifth-year senior who appeared in exactly two plays in his entire college career.

It turns out Brandon Moore is that dreamer you’ve probably never heard of. He’s that walk-on who lost almost 100 pounds in his Alabama journey that included three positional changes and some hard times. This kid tore his ACL in October 2015 and was back in spring practice a few months later.

All that and he played a grand total of two snaps in Bryant-Denny Stadium.

Still, Nick Saban awarded Moore a scholarship before his final season as the spunky scout team player that typically serves his time in the shadows. Teammates loved him, but his legend extended no further than the Alabama locker room.

“It’s not about if anyone knows your name,” he said without a hint of insincerity, “as long as you’re doing what you love.”

That’s what led this football romantic to the Alabama indoor complex that early-March morning. Completely unfazed by the fact Crimson Tide starters are guaranteed nothing in the NFL, Moore ran the 40. Scouts and coaches scribbled his time in their notes just like they did for linebacker Ryan Anderson, a potential high-round draft pick.

In the final drills, Moore joined four-year starter Cole Mazza to show off the long-snapping skills he determined would be his best path to the big leagues. There’s no film for teams to review since Moore never actually snapped in a college game.

There was something refreshing about a scout-team lifer having the confidence to shoot his shot.

And he’s not even doing this for the story. Moore’s serious about this.

“I want to play in the league,” he said. “I want to be a long snapper in the league and a fullback, special teams, whatever they need me to do. I just want to play. That’s the dream as a little kid and just getting this far is awesome.”

On its face, Moore’s story isn’t too different from anyone who walks on at Alabama. An offensive lineman, 6-feet of height wasn’t getting the recruiting visits from Nick Saban. Coming from Cincinnati, there were offers from Division II and Football Championship Subdivision schools.

“But Alabama was my dream,” Moore said.

A family connection to Alabama staffer Jody Wright, then an offensive analyst, brought him to Tuscaloosa as a preferred walk-on.

“I remember he walked in with this short, stalky build,” said Michael Nysewander, Moore’s former teammate at Alabama. “He looks like an offensive lineman but didn’t quite have the height to receive a scholarship from a Division I school. But I remember thinking, man, he just had that build.”

He was a little heftier back then. Try 330 pounds. Enter Scott Cochran, Alabama’s drill sergeant of a strength coach. That blossomed a special working relationship that spanned Moore’s time in the program. Two years after arriving, the desire to move to defensive line brought him to Cochran.

“You’re too big,” Moore remembers a laughing Cochran saying. “Your feet are too slow.”

So, Moore dropped 45 pounds to 285. A year later, he saw an opportunity at fullback.

“Oh no,” a smiling Moore recalled Cochran saying at that suggestion. “Too slow. Too fat. Just the same thing. Pushing me because Coach Cochran’s had my back from the beginning.”

Those 285 pounds became 235 and the beat went on. The odds remained long the whole time. Walk-ons just don’t get that Bryant-Denny Stadium shine too often. Some five-star recruits fall short in that regard.

IMG_4047.JPGBrandon Moore lost nearly 100 pounds in his time at Alabama.
 

That’s what makes Moore different from most and why teammates respected his hustle. It also explains why he would participate in a pro day with future football millionaires.

All of that was in jeopardy less than two years ago. Alabama was practicing for Arkansas in October 2015 when Moore ran to the flat on a pass pattern, twisted his leg and felt a pop.

Alabama’s head athletic trainer Jeff Allen remembers it vividly. Allen instantly knew it was bad, probably an ACL. Still, Moore insisted he get up and keep going.

“I can go,” Allen remembers Moore telling him. “They need me. I need to take some reps.”

The reality soon settled in.

“That crushed me,” Moore said. “I never sat out. I never missed a practice at Alabama. I never really missed anything.”

He broke down. Tears flowed. Could this be it?

Moore already had a national title ring from his freshman season in 2012. There were a few SEC titles too. Four years later, he was no closer to a spot on the depth chart. It wouldn’t even be quitting since Moore was four years into his time at Alabama.

Sitting in his bed after surgery, Moore ripped his name off his hospital bracelet and wrote “Don’t waste a day.”

A few months later, while still rehabbing, then-Alabama special teams coach Bobby Williams suggested Moore give long snapping a try. Mazza was the starter who received a rare scholarship for the specialized skill, but there’s always room for depth.

“I’m an art minor,” Moore said. “And there’s a beauty in special team that I’d never seen until I tried doing it myself … there’s such an art to it. You have to work at it meticulously.”

It never translated into game action. Mazza remained healthy and freshman Scott Meyer was listed as his backup on the depth chart. There was still a reward for sticking with football after the knee surgery. Moore was one of four walk-ons rewarded with a scholarship in August.

A month later, playing time. Three years after playing a single snap against Chattanooga, Moore was called into the Kent State game with 4:25 to play. Subbing in at right guard for the first snap of a series with Alabama up 48-0, Moore came out of his stance and pulled to his left on his second play in a crimson jersey.

“I did OK, honestly,” Moore said. “It was alright. It was a really weird look they brought at us but it’s all good. It was just fun doing it — being out there.”

It was easy to miss if not watching closely. In fact, both snaps Moore took in games were not recorded properly in the game participation log so there’s no official record of him playing. The video doesn’t lie, however.  

Alabama Football Practice  November 19, 2014Alabama offensive lineman Leon Brown (72) works against Brandon Moore (60) in drills during Alabama football practice Nov. 19, 2014. 

Moore’s college career ended quietly on Jan. 9 in Tampa. The transition to the pros began soon after, which led to Alabama’s pro day March 8 for the Tide’s most unlikely NFL hopeful. Feedback from teams was positive. He didn’t have much time to talk after the workout because an NFL scout requested a meeting.

“You’re an animal,” Scott Cochran told him after jumping 28 inches at pro day.

Moore was still riding that emotional high the next afternoon. Though his five years spent at Alabama won’t be remembered much beyond his friends, family and teammates, his impact wasn’t lost on those close to Moore.

“I always say you can’t win championships without guys like Brandon,” Nysewander said. “Just the type of guys that do the dirty work and always doing the right thing that the outside doesn’t see.”

Allen, the head trainer, spent hours with Moore in the knee rehab process.

“He knew what his role was,” Allen said. “And he knew he might not play a lot — might not play at all, but I’m going to help this team. He’s just a great, great kid. I wish we had more of them.”

Now, he’s off to the next step. Moore’s hoping to get into business if the football thing doesn’t work out. He’s selling wristbands with his “Don’t waste a day” motto and hopes to do some motivational speaking to spread his story to other dreamers out there.

That’s all after football, though.

“I want to play in the league,” Moore said without hesitation. “I want to be a long snapper in the league and a fullback, special teams, whatever they need me to do. I just want to play. That’s the dream as a little kid. Just getting this far is awesome.”

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