Pro Football Focus (PFF) continued their positional rankings ahead of the 2023 season, and another Michigan Wolverine has made an appearance.
In PFF’s rankings of the top 10 safeties, Rod Moore checks in at No. 5. Here is what they had to say about the soon-to-be junior:
“Moore is arguably the most well-rounded safety in the country heading into next season and was an honorable mention All-American for PFF in 2022.
“He was one of two Power Five safeties in 2022 who earned 80-plus grades both in coverage and as a run defender. The other, Alabama’s Brian Branch, is a top-10 prospect on PFF’s 2023 NFL Draft big board. Moore’s four interceptions were tied for seventh among Power Five safeties.”
Moore has come a long way in two years in Ann Arbor. Scrolling through his recruiting class, you’ll see familiar names like quarterback J.J. McCarthy, running back Donovan Edwards and linebacker Junior Colson. But if you keep scrolling — and scrolling and scrolling — eventually you’ll find Moore, the No. 506 prospect in the country.
Born into a Buckeye family an hour outside of Columbus, Moore was a presumptive afterthought in the class — a depth providing safety who would, at the most, carve out a roll on special teams, but inevitably get lost behind the talent in the safety room.
A year prior, Michigan’s 2020 recruiting class featured a trio of highly-touted four-star safeties: Jordan Morant, Makari Paige and RJ Moten, all of whom appeared poised to battle for the right to start as the third safety next to the duo of Brad Hawkins and Dax Hill in Mike Macdonald’s 4-2-5 scheme in 2021.
Even legacy player and special teams ace Caden Kolesar was rising up the safety rankings ahead of the season. No one thought Moore — who didn’t even enroll early — would play a role as a freshman or even crack the top five-deep at the safety position.
But when he arrived in Ann Arbor that summer, he immediately got to work.
Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh shared an anecdote on the In the Trenches podcast about Moore’s freshman work ethic last fall:
“Rod was not a guy who talked a lot about in the recruiting classes,” Harbaugh said. “When you were talking about guys like Donovan Edwards, Junior Colson and J.J. McCarthy and even others — but about three weeks into camp, I went and checked everybody and how much tape they were watching. You give them iPads (to watch tape) and Rod Moore had watched twice as much as the second-best guy for volume of watching tape. He was watching installs, he was rewatching installs.
“I go, ‘Who is this? Is this guy delusional, that he thinks he’s going to be playing with some of the safeties we have on this team like Brad Hawkins and RJ Moten and (Caden) Kolesar?’ Maybe, maybe he is just that big of a dreamer. It turned out that he was. That’s really the first time he was big-time on my radar as a guy to really watch.”
Moore’s blue collar work ethic and on-field play helped him steadily climb the depth chart his true freshman season and in Week 10 against Penn State, Moore made his first career start. Two weeks later, Moore started against his household’s favorite Ohio State Buckeyes.
Moore co-led the team with nine tackles and played a pivotal role in toppling the Buckeyes for the first time in a decade. After committing to Michigan in high school, he was told he would never beat Ohio State; through two seasons, Moore has never lost to them.
Moore’s sophomore season saw him start 13 games and finish third on the team in tackles (71) and first in interceptions (4). In doing so, Moore became only the second Wolverine since 2000 to reach 70 tackles and four interceptions in a single season. Furthermore, against Purdue in the Big Ten Championship, he record 14 total tackles, which is the second-most by a Harbaugh era player in a single game.
By the numbers, Moore turned a three-star ranking into two Big Ten titles, an undefeated record against Ohio State, and became the exclusive owner of one pair of “Turnover Buffs.” Imagine how slighted he is going to be to only be the No. 5 safety entering the 2023 season?
In Rod we trust.