All the hard work LSU tight end-turned-fullback John David Moore put in during his football career – especially the past two seasons with the Tigers – paid off in a big way recently.
Moore, a walk-on from Ruston High School, was called into coach Les Miles’ office shortly before the team’s first scrimmage and received the news he had been awarded a scholarship.
“I’m just thankful and blessed to be put on (scholarship) because I know there’s a lot of guys in my position that don’t get put on, or get put on this early in their career,” said Moore, a redshirt sophomore who’ll likely start at fullback in the season opener against McNeese State.
The first person he called after Miles told him was his mother, then his father.
“I called my mom first, then dad - they were one and two, back-to-back,” a beaming Moore said. “I was trying to catch them at the same time … that would have been ideal. “They’ve been with me every step of the way, so I was able to celebrate with them,” he said. “(It was) just a lot of joy.”
The news validated the work the 6-foot-3, 229-pound Moore put in since his arrival in 2013, which started with him working with the scout squad -- which mimics the opponents’ defense in practice leading up to games.
“There was nothing less than I expected to do,” he said of the grunt work unheralded players perform. “I didn’t expect to come in and be an all-star, but I definitely expected to work with the scout team -- which is exactly what I did.”
While Moore came to LSU as a tight end who caught 24 passes for 354 yards and six touchdowns as a junior at Ruston High, it didn’t take long for the coaches to take a look at him in the backfield. In 2014 spring practice, the Tigers had some injuries at fullback and he was asked to give it a try. He got some snaps there last fall in addition to getting a few at tight end before the move became permanent this spring.
It could turn out to be a great move for Moore, who faced long odds at getting snaps in practice and games behind Dillon Gordon, DeSean Smith, Colin Jeter and Jacory Washington.
“We had a lot of great guys there and a lot of them are still here,” Moore said. “I learned a lot working alongside those guys; there was a lot of competition and pushing each other to get better. Having that experience kind of set me up to have the same sort of work ethic moving to fullback.”
Kicker Trent Domingue was also expected to have received a scholarship. He indicated this month that he, like Moore, had discussions with Miles about the prospect.
Mills “doing pretty good” after surgery
Despite undergoing surgery that may keep him sidelined for six weeks, senior safety Jalen Mills is staying as close to the field as possible. Mills’ injury occurred during morning practice on Aug. 19, but he has been diligently watching his teammates ever since.
Junior defensive back Rickey Jefferson, who will likely take Mills’ spot at safety in the base defense, said the senior is as active as ever in the secondary’s group text.
“He’s doing pretty good. He’s looking to make a speedy recovery and get a lot of treatment,” Jefferson said. “He’s keeping his head high and supporting us. He came to the scrimmage last Saturday, just watching us and making sure he doesn’t miss a beat.”
Mills started all 39 games of his career, and his injury forced defensive backs coach Corey Raymond to do some shuffling in the secondary. Reserves like junior Corey Thompson and freshman Xavier Lewis are now vying for playing time in LSU’s Nickel and Dime sets.
Through the tumult of pinpointing which player belongs where, Jefferson said the secondary is “holding up pretty well” without Mills. But that doesn’t mean they’ve forgotten about him.
“We’re trying to keep his head up in high spirits and trying to execute on the field as best as we can for him,” Jefferson said. “We communicate with him off the field because it does hurt.”