Gary Moore steps up first year in starting role

Moore has four tackles in two games this season, one a sack for a forced fumble in the first two games.

Jack Warrick

Gary Moore’s future with the Gophers was unsure when P.J. Fleck took over as head coach.

“He was this close from being out of the program,” Fleck said. “He took that chance that he got and he ran with it … and he’s never looked back.”

Many Gophers players were close to exiting the program with this year’s coaching change, but this year, Moore has broken out as a threat on the defensive line. The defensive tackle turned heads last week with a strip-sack on Oregon State’s quarterback that put the Gophers in scoring position on the Beavers’ 24 yard line.

“It’s like a new dad coming [into] your life every year,” Fleck said. “We’re finding out things everyday, about who’s in, who’s out.”

Moore, a Mobile, Alabama native, played his first game as a Gopher in 2014 as a freshman. It was a game against Middle Tennessee where he played a little on special teams and defense.

He played in four games in the 2014 season, notching two tackles before redshirting in 2015.

Last year, Moore recorded the same statistics from his freshman year — four games played and two tackles.

He has played under three different head coaches since getting to Minnesota in 2014.

The 6 foot, 4 inch, 287 pound defensive tackle is listed as Steven Richardson’s backup on the depth chart, but the two can be seen on the line together as well.

Richardson is known as the leader of the Gophers defensive line, being named on three defensive player award watch lists over the summer. He had 31 tackles last year, 11 for loss and seven sacks.

Teams have picked up on Richardson’s talent, accounting for him with double teams, which has led to opening up other players on the defense. Richardson has just one tackle this year, while Moore has four.

“I really like what he’s brought to us in terms of pass rush,” said defensive coordinator Robb Smith. “He’s a long guy that can play on the interior, he can get a hand in the quarterback’s face.”

Moore went to Murphy High School in Mobile, Alabama where he was ranked a three-star by 247Sports. Gophers football alumnus and Patriots wide receiver KJ Maye also went to Murphy High School.

Moore signed with former Gophers head coach Jerry Kill in 2014 after flipping his verbal commitment to Southern Mississippi.

The Gophers play Middle Tennessee this Saturday — the team Moore first played against for the Gophers. The Gophers beat Middle Tennessee in that game 35-24.

“What an amazing story he is, and what he’s about,” Fleck said. “He was an elite performer of the week for our football team, and if you would have told me that would have happened with Gary Moore five months ago, I would have said no way.”