There was nothing he could do but wait as he watched his defensive teammates struggle last year.
He stood on the sideline — watching, hoping there was a chance he could get back on the field.
Josh Moore made a mistake. It was his fault. But he attests that mistake has made him a stronger person. He had to learn the hard way. Something he loved was taken away from him at the blink of an eye.
And while some speculated he would never play football at K-State again, there was never a doubt in his mind that he was going to remain a Wildcat.
After a year of life-changing lessons, he is no longer a helpless spectator. He’s back on the field playing the sport he loves, and he’s back to doing what he does best — shutting down the opponent’s go-to receiver.
Moore, a native of Pompano Beach, Fla., started playing football at age 7. It’s a sport he has always had a passion for.
“Everyone played football out of my family,” Moore said. “When it was my time to play, my parents would always come and watch me. Football has always been a part of my life.”
He jumped on college coaches’ radar screens after his junior year at Ely High School in Florida when he recorded 10 interceptions and 60 tackles, earning him all-area honors.
His performance on the football field garnered college scholarship offers from coaches all over the region. Auburn offered. The University of Florida also showed heavy interest in the 5-foot-11, 184-pound defensive back.
A lifelong dream
Moore wanted to play football at Florida State for as long as he can remember.
“That was my childhood school,” he said. “I grew up a Florida State fan, and I always wanted to go there.”
But the offer never came. Or did it?
He committed to coach Ron Prince a few days before national letter of intent signing day.
“When I came here for my visit, I really liked the players here,” Moore said. “I felt the team [Prince] was recruiting when I came here was going to be good in the future and that we were going to have a good program.”
However, just days after committing to K-State, Florida State coach Bobby Bowden extended a scholarship offer to Moore.
“It was hard — just knowing that Florida State offered me,” he said. “I said I would rather just hold up to what I said to coach Prince. I committed here, and I’m going to stick with it and be happy with my decision. I still feel like I made my best decision by coming here.”
The bar set high
Moore came to K-State with high expectations, and he delivered immediately.
Moore stepped in as a true freshman and played in all 13 games of the 2006 season, starting in the final five.
He finished 10th on the team in total tackles with 35. He also tied for second on the team in pass break-ups with five.
His performance earned him freshman All Big-12 and honorable mention All-America from Sporting News.
A costly mistake
The travel roster was out for the first game of the 2007 season. The Wildcats were gearing up for one of their biggest season-openers in program history as they prepared to to take on Southeastern Conference power Auburn.
But a name was missing from the traveling squad. Moore wasn’t on the list.
Wildcat fans scurried to find out information. It had to be a mistake. It wasn’t. K-State announced his indefinite suspension just moments before the game.
He was one of five players linked to allegations of academic misconduct and extra benefits. The allegations involved a K-State female tutor accused of forging English papers and being involved in romantic relationships with student athletes.
K-State launched an internal investigation and immediately alerted the NCAA.
Moore was forced to sit out the entire 2007 season while the NCAA investigated the accusations. They closed the investigation with no findings of any wrongdoing.
He said it was one of the hardest things he has ever had to do.
He watched opposing offenses shred apart the Wildcat defense. He couldn’t stop the drubbing at Nebraska or Fresno State.
“The hardest part was knowing that I wasn’t injured or anything like that,” he said. “I had the ability to play, but knowing that I couldn’t perform for my team — that was the hard part to accept. Just knowing I couldn’t go out there and help my team when they needed me.”
Moore said the hope of getting back on the field for the 2007 season ended after the Wildcats defeated Texas.
“I just started looking forward to next year and tried to build off what this year was,” he said. “Not just accepting the bad, but to make the situation that I was in last year into a positive.”
Moore acknowledges that he made a mistake, but he said it has helped him mature on and off the field.
“Knowing now, after I sat out a year, I think that made me a better person, not just a better player, but a better person off the field. I am a better person all around now.”
He said it hurt having football taken away.
“I respect coach Prince and the coaching staff and everybody who helped me get through that situation,” he said. “They helped me stay positive about everything.”
His perseverance and personality has caught the eye of Prince, who raved about Moore’s turnaround.
“I have never seen him have a bad day,” Prince said. “He’s very positive. He’s excited about being a college football player, and he wants to be a really good defensive back. He’s into it. He’s a very positive figure, and he wants to do well.”
Back on the field
He is back on the football field now. He fittingly switched his jersey to No. 4. Wildcat fans often make comparisons of him to an old Wildcat who used to wear that number.
“I know all of the fans want to compare me to Terence Newman,” he said. “Those are some big shoes to fill.”
Prince said Moore knew the implications of wearing the No. 4 jersey.
“He picked the number he has now, and I tried to explain to him that there was a really good player that wore that number here once upon a time,” Prince said. “He understood.”
Perhaps the number change represents a change of identity for Moore. He has the intangibles to be a great corner. Now, his personality certainly fits the persona of one.
“I feel when I’m on the field I’m the best all the time,” Moore said. “I feel like I can’t get beat. I like the pressure that they surround me with.”
Junior safety Chris Carney said Moore’s return has taken some of the pressure off other players in the secondary.
“It definitely helps a lot,” he said. “He does such a great job. It makes my job easier. It makes me a little bit more comfortable to play out there.”
The swagger is back. He’s the cornerstone of the Wildcat secondary that is ranked third in the nation in pass defense through two games and first nationally at holding opponents to 3.2 yards per pass attempt.
“I just go out there and work hard everyday knowing that the standard is set high for me and try to make the best of it.”