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Is Derrick Moore the next great Michigan pass rusher?

The sophomore is poised for a breakout season in an expanded role in 2023.

Vrbo Fiesta Bowl - Michigan v TCU Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Attending the 2022 Michigan Wolverines spring game, my podcasting partner Jared Stormer and I were taken aback. “How in the Hell did Rod Moore bulk up this much?” If he maintains his speed and intuition at this new size Moore is going to break the way we think about football.

After several minutes of hyperbolic forecasting, it hit us. Haven’t we been drinking Bloody Marys since 6:30 a.m.? Isn’t there a gargantuan new freshman also with the last name Moore on the team?

While our fantasy fiction Rod Moore hopes were dashed, from the moment we first saw Derrick Moore in the Big House, he made a strong impression.

The story so far

Four-star defensive lineman Derrick Moore enrolled early at Michigan as a part of the 2022 recruiting class. Listed as a 6’4, 250-pound freshman, Moore arrived with no muscle assembly required but added another 29 pounds for good measure.

Despite being a freshman in a crowded EDGE room, Moore played rotational snaps in all 14 games for the Wolverines in 2022. In the process, Moore racked up eight total tackles, two tackles-for-loss, and two sacks. Not jaw-dropping numbers, but those numbers are on par or better than five of Michigan’s best pass rushers’ freshman statistics.

2019 David Ojabo: Did not see game action

2018 Aidan Hutchinson: 12 total tackles, 1.5 tackles-for-loss

2017 Kwity Paye: Four total tackles, 1.5 tackles-for-loss, one sack

2016 Rashan Gary: 23 total tackles, five tackles-for-loss, 0.5 sacks

2015 Chase Winovich: Two total tackles

Moore is still in the process of earning his Bachelor’s Degree, but after one season with defensive line coach Mike Elston and a room full of savvy vets, Derrick Moore already has his degree in pass rushing.

With a year under his belt, Moore is looking to take on a starring role this season.

Outlook for 2023

If there were any doubts about Moore taking the next step in his development, those were quickly dashed falling a dominant spring performance. No one can forget the moment he tossed right tackle Tristan Bounds like a rag doll en route to rushing the quarterback (near-side edge). Jake Butt’s reaction says it all.

Despite another year of rotating snaps, Moore is expected to see an increased role in terms of snaps and impact. With a bevy of new pass-rushing moves and size you cannot teach, Moore is trending toward a fantasy fiction season on his own terms.

Keeping with the comparison above, here is how those same five players faired as sophomores.

2020 David Ojabo: One total tackle (Has there ever been a bigger outlier?)

2019 Aidan Hutchinson: 69 total tackles, 10 tackles-for-loss, 3.5 sacks, three forced fumbles

2018 Kwity Paye: 27 total tackles, 5.5 tackles-for-loss, two sacks, one forced fumble

2017 Rashan Gary: 58 total tackles, 11.5 tackles-for-loss, 5.5 sacks, one forced fumble

2016 Chase Winovich: 32 total tackles, 8.5 tackles-for-loss, five sacks, one forced fumble

Can Moore become the breakout player on an already talent-rich defense? I don’t need five Bloody Marys to tell you this time: Derrick Moore’s got next.