Rondale Moore: Path to the NFL DRaft
Purdue wide receiver Rondale Moore exploded onto the college football scene as a true freshman in 2018. Explosive, elusive, fast, but also with strength beyond his diminutive stature, he destroyed school records while earning every accolade available to a young footballer. For many, one game against Ohio State demonstrates his devastating impact on the game. However, as he heads to the 2021 NFL Draft, he’s keen to point out that he brings more than just that one night in October 2018.
“That was a little taste of it. I think, when you go further along and you really start to get in depth of who I am and what I do, it goes far beyond just that game. I think Ohio State was just a little taste of it.”
The Beginning Of The Journey
Rondale Moore started his “Path to the NFL Draft” playing flag football. Although he made his name as a wide receiver, his early career was spent playing quarterback. Explosive and speedy even as a youngster, it’s not difficult to see how his early football inspirations influenced his game as he progressed through his football career.
“First would be Tavon Austin. When he was at West Virginia, he was very electric. That was a guy I looked up to. Eventually we got a chance to connect and we stayed in contact ever since. Tavon Austin was a big influence for me. I was a quarterback at the time, so I thought Jonny Manziel was interesting to watch. RGIII, Teddy Bridgewater, guys like that.”
He would take those football inspirations into the high school arena. Transferring to Trinity High School prior to his junior season, he was a part of consecutive State Championship winning teams, and never lost a game during his high school career.
“It was fun! We had a chance to play a national schedule, some teams that were outside of our state, even some from Florida. It was exciting man. I got the chance to be coached by a very winning coach. Bob Batey, the offensive co-ordinator there, was very intelligent, smart, and sharp. He’s actually a mentor of mine to this day with Andrew Coverdale. It was nothing short of great to be honest with you. We were pretty much blowing everybody out. We were surrounded by some coaches who knew what to do and how to win, the way to go about it.”
High School Football Education
Although he set school records as a senior and won the 2017 Gatorade Kentucky Player of the Year and Paul Hornung Award as the top high school player, Rondale Moore remains humble about his high school career. Rather than reflecting on the awards, he focuses on how he developed as a football player at Trinity.
He’s been described by others as a “football junkie” whose appreciation of the technical and tactical aspects of the game are a compliment to his athletic attributes.
“We practiced extremely hard and I had to work my tail off to actually get it. I came in with not a lot of knowledge of the game. I was working off pure athleticism and I got humbled really fast when I got there and realised I had to learn what was going on before I even got in the game. Never got to a point where I was comfortable or felt like I was better than anyone. When I had to sit out (due to transfer regulations) I was attending quarterback meetings before school, during practice I was in the press box. It was like a blessing and a curse because I learned the most during that time. I continue to be a sponge, ask as many questions as I can, and continue to learn from everyone.”
A versatile playmaker who caught, rushed, and returned kicks for touchdowns as a high school senior, Rondale Moore left Trinity as a four-star recruit and the number one player in Kentucky. As a result of his high school success, he held offers from major programs including Alabama and Ohio State, and had an early commitment to Texas. However, one school ticked all the boxes.
“It was wild man. It was stressful. There were times where I had no clue where I wanted to go, what I wanted to do. But for me man, it came down to talking to who I seek for advice, my mentors. We made a list of the things that I was looking for in a college and honestly it came down to Purdue. Relationships were at the top of that list, education, and how I would be utilised in the offense and how early I would be able to play.”
The opportunity to play at Purdue would come early for Rondale Moore. He took to the field in the season opener against Northwestern as a true freshman in 2018.
“It was exciting. Fortunately for me I got the opportunity to go out there and play. I found a way to not have a terrible game. It was exciting.”
For every bit as he is talented, Rondale Moore is humble too. Although he attributes his on-field success to the other 10 guys on the team, he set a school record for all-purpose yards in his debut. He racked up 109 receiving yards and a touchdown, had 2 rushes for 79 yards and a touchdown, and 5 kick returns for 125 yards. 313 total yards in his college debut, Rondale Moore blew up the football world.
Humility & Inspiration
Further 100+ all-purpose yards games would come against Missouri, Boston College, Nebraska, and Illinois, before Purdue welcomed Ohio State to Ross-Ade Stadium.
On October 20th the Boilermakers shocked the Buckeyes in front of the eyes of the nation. Rondale Moore snagged a then career high 12 catches, 170 yards and two touchdowns. Although that one game doesn’t define who he is as a football player, one play – perhaps the most watched play of his career – helps demonstrate to an NFL team what he can do on the field.
“That little swing route out of the backfield. I think it shows my elusiveness as a player, my strength, my vision, and my speed, all in one place.”
That game, that night, in Ross-Ade Stadium was more than football, however. Tyler Trent, a former Purdue student, super-fan, and long battling cancer patient whose story inspired and gripped a nation, was in attendance.
“It was very humbling to say the least. That was the first time Tyler and I got to speak in person, after the game. Just to see what he went through, how hard he fought, it was nothing for us to go out there and try and win a game for him. Tyler was a great inspiration man, a dear friend of mine, and a strong individual.”
Rondale Moore would go on to finish the season with 1471 all-purpose yards and 14 touchdowns as a freshman in 2018. His performances would earn him multiple accolades including Big Ten Wide Receiver of the Year, Big Ten Freshman of the Year, as well as First Team All-American honors. He set Purdue records for all-purpose yards in a season as well as equalling the school record for most 100+ receiving yard games.
However, he knew there was more that could have been achieved.
“For me man, it was more so about mistakes. It was going back and realising what I missed out on crazily enough. As a receiver you want to take advantage of every opportunity. For me it was important to go back and realise how I could fix those and get better.”
Unfortunately, the opportunity to fix and get better would be severely limited over the next two years. Although he points to the Vanderbilt game in 2019 as the ultimate example of what he can bring to the field, between injury and the disrupted 2020 college football season, Rondale Moore would play just seven games through 2019 and 2020.
“You hit it right on the head with the word “frustrating”. You go back, you watch the film, you put in the work, you talk with your coaches and teammates and figure out a plan, and it gets shortened due to injury or whatever. Frustrating is definitely the word. I’m just trying to stay focused on the task in hand and continue to try and get better, go through what I’m capable of.”
"It'll Be Hell For Someone To Scheme Against Me"
Despite a frustrating two years, and with remaining eligibility on the table, Rondale Moore declared for the 2021 NFL Draft.
“I came into college with a few goals. I left with my degree in hand. Everything that I could imagine putting on film, I’ve done it. As a punt returner, a kick returner, in the backfield, inside, outside, I’ve done it. So, everything I want to put on film is there. For me, it’s important to go and take care of the people who’ve taken care of you and specifically my mother. I think it’s important to put her in a better situation.”
As he heads to the 2021 NFL Draft, the biggest knock on Rondale Moore’s draft stock hasn’t been around his ability. There’s never been any question about that. However, the media is full of questions about his injury history, how he will hold up to the rigours of the NFL game. In turn, his name is frequently absent from the question of who the top receivers in this class are.
Rondale Moore is ready to provide the answers.
“I think there’s three things really. When I go through medicals, that will go out the window. Two, when I go run first, that’ll go out the window. Three, when you pull up the film it’s all there. You can see what I’m capable of. I have the ability to do a lot of things at a lot of different positions, and I think it’ll be hell for someone to scheme against me.”
Showcasing His Speed
The speed is evident on tape. However, a large part of the process is the measurements and timing that normally would occur at the NFL Combine. He’s currently training at EXOS in Texas ahead of the Purdue Pro Day where he’ll get the opportunity to put on a show. Although he acknowledges that it’s difficult to know exactly what time he will achieve in the 40-yard dash, Rondale Moore is confident in what he can do.
“If I run 4.3 considering it’s hand timed, I’ll be disappointed.”
The 2021 NFL Draft wide receiver class could challenge last year’s historic class. It’s a deep class, with varying skillsets, and a little bit of something for everyone. However, Rondale Moore is confident that he brings not just one element to the position, but everything wrapped up in one player.
“I’m the complete package. I offer a lot more outside of just being a wide receiver. I don’t want to put myself in a box and label myself as a slot receiver. I’ve put it all on film. I think they should draft me because I can do it all.”
OLIVER HODGKINSON IS A COLLEGE FOOTBALL WRITER FOR THE TOUCHDOWN. HE ALSO WRITES ON THE NFL FOR THE PRO FOOTBALL NETWORK. YOU CAN HEAR HIS OPINIONS ON ALL THINGS COLLEGE FOOTBALL AS ONE THIRD OF THE COLLEGE CHAPS PODCAST.
Huge thanks to Rondale Moore for taking the time to speak to us.