Vanderbilt football fans might not see a lot more of D.J. Moore. Not as a member of the Commodores, at least.
The junior cornerback, a second-team All-American, said Friday that he has submitted the necessary paperwork to the NFL to receive insight into his potential draft status. He said, however, that he plans to rely on instinct moreso than information when he decides whether or not to forgo his final season of college eligibility.
“I think it’s just me,” Moore said. “I don’t really worry about the inquiry. I know my ability. If I leave, I’m going to leave on my ability. I’m going to look at the inquiry, but it may or may not help you.”
Moore – and other underclassmen throughout the country – has until Jan. 15 to declare for the draft. That means he will have just over two weeks after the Music City Bowl to decide his immediate future.
He and coach Bobby Johnson say they have yet to receive the report from the NFL Draft Advisory Board. Some websites, however, have projected him as high as a second-round prospect.
“I don’t make the decision for (players) and I don’t pretend to advise them to make the decision,” Johnson said. “That’s going to be their future, their decision. I just give them the information, and if they ask me a question I just answer the best that I can.
“I might tell them what’s going on, but they have to make that decision.”
If production counts for anything, Moore has done it.
He led VU in all-purpose yards with 76.9 per game and was the only Commodore to contribute in all five aspects of that statistic – rushing yards, receiving yards, punt return yards, kickoff return yards and fumble/interception return yards.
“On kickoff return or punt return, when we get the ball back, you want to get good field position,” he said. “I don’t think I’m the only one who can do it, but I want to be the one that makes the big play.”
If recognition means anything, he has not been overlooked.
Moore was a first-team All-SEC selection by the Associated Press and the SEC Coaches, and he became the first Vanderbilt player since Jamie Duncan in 1997 to be named an A.P All-American (second team).
“I’m pretty pleased,” Moore said of the honors. “I’m not going to say that I didn’t expect it. I pretty much expected it. All-Conference, I got that last year, so I’m thinking I was going to get it again. All-American, that’s a great honor too because only so many players can be chosen.”
The same is true of the NFL Draft, which consists of just seven rounds.
A year ago, Vanderbilt wide receiver Earl Bennett elected to turn pro a year early after having been named first-team All-SEC two years in a row. The Chicago Bears selected him in the third round (70th overall).
Moore said he has spoken often to Bennett in recent weeks, but their dialogue has been limited to online games.
He added, though, that the prospect of playing in the NFL next season has, in fact, crossed his mind.
“Everybody’s going to think about it,” Moore said. “…I’ve thought about it, but I really don’t know yet.”
BRIEFLY: The Commodores returned to the practice field Friday for their first workout since Dec. 9. They worked for roughly two hours and began to install the game plan designed for their Music City Bowl opponent, Boston College. “We had a lot of energy,” Johnson said. “I’m sure being done with exams and being in a bowl practice, we had good reason to be happy out here.” Vanderbilt will practice for five straight days before players are given a break for Christmas. … Running back Jared Hawkins, the team’s leading rusher, still is unable to practice because of a foot injury. Jeff Jennings, the second-leading rusher among running backs, did conditioning work on the side but was not involved in any contact or team activities. … Quarterback Mackenzi Adams, who missed the first three workouts following the bowl invitation, did dress and participate in the workout.