Moore getting his shot
After waiting patiently for four years, senior tight end in position to shine
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- It has been pretty easy to overlook Michigan tight end Brandon Moore the last few seasons.
On the field, he was in a Rich Rodriguez offense that hardly used the tight end position. Even so, he was still behind Martell Webb then Kevin Koger in Brady Hoke's system. Last season, Moore caught just one pass in 11 games.
But as a fifth-year senior, Moore is alert, poised and ready to step into the starting tight end position in Brady Hoke's offense -- a system that's hoping to use the tight end more and more.
"I feel like I'm getting a lot better and playing with a lot more speed because I'm more used to the offense," Moore said. "It's not so much thinking within the offense. It's just playing rather than thinking about what my assignments are."
Offensive coordinator Al Borges has already taken notice of Moore during spring ball. He spoke about how the fifth-year senior is playing the best he has played, taking the right steps and playing with an attitude, which the coaching staff likes.
This ability to "just play" is largely fueled by the fact Moore spent time behind other talented players, watching and studying how they worked themselves into the offense, waiting for his own turn to do the same.
It's exactly what Koger had to do. He, too, waited his turn to be featured in the offense and found that when he finally stepped into the role, it was easier to play without overthinking because of what he did while waiting.
"It felt like it came full circle," Koger said. "You come in and you look up to the upperclassmen and you hope that one day you'll get the shot they have. And you learn what you can from them and then they leave it. Suddenly people are looking up to you and you have to produce and it just comes."
Koger said that for him a lot of it was studying the playbook, which Moore said he has been doing diligently. But, Koger pointed out that the most important facet is getting live snaps in as a tight end. Now running with the first team, Moore is on the field for more snaps.
This live experience should produce a more comfortable Moore, something Koger believes fans will see at the spring game on Saturday.
"Live reps are key to being comfortable with what you're doing," Koger said. "At some point, they'll call a play and you won't even think about what you have to do, you just do it. Brandon will get more reps this year and one day it'll completely click and he'll just flow out there."
Borges and Hoke have reiterated their desires that their tight ends have superb blocking skills, which Moore, at 6-foot-5, 255 pounds, seems well-equipped for. And with a spring of experience under his belt, he could find targeted 30 to 40 times next season as the featured tight end.
"Brandon's got some talent," Borges said. "In terms of understanding what we do, I don't think there's any issues there. He's a smart kid. Now that he understands it, the paralysis through analysis should be gone and pretty much is. He's as aggressive as I've seen him and has demonstrated a certain degree of consistency that's shown improvement."