There were quite a few fun surprises for the Michigan Wolverines, which is what happens when a team goes from 2-4 to 12-2. Hidden amongst some important breakouts was the impact of true freshman Rod Moore, who did not project to be anything close to a key contributor in 2021.
Moore was just that, however. He wound up playing in nearly every game and eventually turned into a starter by the end of the year. A huge nine-tackle performance against Ohio State and its gauntlet of wide receivers has everyone excited for a sophomore season which now features a much bigger spotlight.
The story so far
A three-star prospect out of Ohio, Moore fell outside the top 500 of the 247Sports composite and looked like a clear redshirt candidate given his profile and an existing safety depth chart which included Dax Hill and Brad Hawkins. Moore was a little undersized but had the speed and IQ to potentially become impactful after a year or so in the weight room.
Clearly that turned out to be unnecessary, as the freshman turned some early playing time into an audition for more snaps. The coaching staff obliged, and Moore saw himself on the field for the majority of the biggest games of the year, including the big three to close out the season.
Moore benefits from Michigan’s defensive versatility, as five-defensive back packages have become quite common. With Hill playing more as a nickel, a safety spot became open, and Moore’s story is simply one of a player taking the opportunity and running with it. Given some of the question marks across the secondary, being able to confidently rely on the freshman was a huge win last season.
Outlook moving forward
Hawkins is gone to the NFL, as is Hill. That leaves Moore as an obvious starter to go along with either R.J. Moten or Makari Paige, with maybe a little Michael Barrett thrown in as well. The secondary is not the only part of the defense with new faces, of course, with significant development needed along the defensive line to replace the departing superstars. The Wolverines will need all parts of the defense to step up in order to not completely fall off, but the hope is the secondary can help cover some of the losses up front.
Improving on last season is a tough ask, but for Moore individually there is no reason to think he will not keep developing. He now has the experience on the biggest stages and also got an offseason to bulk up a little. It could be another quiet showing, but do not be surprised to see Moore as one of the team’s more reliable starters in 2022.