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Kenny Moore: The Story of a Longshot

Kenny Moore was never supposed to make it.

Hell, he never was supposed to play the sport.

In high school, Moore was a track stud for Lowndes High School in Valdosta, Georgia.

For the first 3 years of his high school experience, football was not a part of his life. That was until one of the starting cornerbacks was kicked off the team for legal reasons and one of Moore’s track teammates, who also played football, pleaded him to join the team, knowing how incredibly athletic Moore was.

And so Moore’s journey on the gridiron began.

Unfortunately, after an early exit in the GHSA Class 6A playoffs, Moore’s high school career ended as swiftly as it had started. But Moore was never truly into the sport, as he told reporters at the start of this season that “I wasn’t like, ‘Oh my gosh, I wanna play football so bad in college. It was like, if I play football, I play football.”

However, after racking up 18 tackles, 2 interceptions and 2 pass breakups in 2012 Moore attracted David Dean’s (then head coach at Valdosta State) attention. With a college scholarship in hand, Moore got to work, on the football field and in the classroom.

At first, Moore saw football as an option to pay for his education, since not many Division II prospects seemed to make it to the NFL. Instead, he planned on majoring in mass media.

Everything seemed to be going accordingly after his freshman season, where he accumulated 12 solo tackles, 6 tackle assists and 1 interception.

But then year two rolled around, and things started to pick up, and after he garnered 6 solo tackles, 11 tackle assists, 5 pass breakups, 2 interceptions, and 1 forced fumble, he proved that David Dean might have been onto something when he offered the senior, with one year of film, a scholarship.

But Moore explained that it was not until the end of his junior year when he really started to realize that he had the potential to make it to the league. Why? Because after starting all 13 games as a junior and racking up 34 solo tackles, 17 tackle assists, 1 sack, 6 pass breakups and 3 interceptions (2 of which were returned for touchdowns), the D2 world started to take notice. Some of the few awards Moore earned were First Team All-GSC, D2CAA Second Team All-Super Region Two and USA College Football Division II Second Team All-American honors. Now a more well known name around Division II circles, Moore did something many recommended him against.

He converted to safety.

It paid off in the end, as Moore churned out some of his best seasons up till that point. After playing in 11 games in 2016, he totaled 45 solo tackles, 20 tackle assists, 1 sack, 8 pass breakups and 5 interceptions and garnered GSC All-Academic, Second Team All-GSC, D2CAA Second Team All-Super Region Two, HERO Sports D2 First Team All-American and AFCA First Team All-American recognition.

This caught the eye of scouts, and Moore was invited to the Tropical Bowl, an All-Star game for players who weren’t invited to more prestigious showcases (the Senior Bowl primarily). And amongst all these small school players he stuck out enough that, after not hearing his name called during draft night, the Patriots invited him to camp.

Eventually he was waived, and that could have been it. He could have gone back to Georgia, used his degree to get a job and lived out the rest of his life bragging to his friends how he played in the NFL, even if it was only for a few months.

This was almost his reality.

Ballard has a rule when it comes to Corners. 5-10 and up. Anything below that was unplayable, and there were no exceptions, no ifs, ands or buts. It had been his rule with the Chiefs, and now that he ran the Indianapolis Colts, it sure as hell was going to be his rule again.

And yet, Kevin Rodgers, one of the Colts pro scouts, pitched him the idea of picking up 5-9 Moore with an almost stubborn belief.

Maybe it was the fact that the Colts were thinner than a sheet of paper at cornerback. Maybe it was Rodgers’ pitch. Maybe it was just the fact that it was 2am and Ballard wanted to hang up the phone and go to bed. Whatever it may have been that convinced Ballard to finally watch the tape Rodgers had sent him on the undrafted, unwanted and unknown CB out of Valdosta State, it was all Moore needed.

As the sun arose, the Colts were the only team to put in a waiver claim for the Division II corner that was deemed too short to be any good.

And that’s all it took for Moore. He never again wanted to feel the pain of being cut and let go, not knowing what his next step would be. Everyone saw him as a camp body. A guy who was a long-shot to be the 5th corner on the team. But he put down his head and worked harder than everyone and anyone. And in the end it paid off, as he went from a guy that was decking punt returners who had already downed the ball (anyone remember that play, that was Kenny) to a 5 game starter, albeit due to injuries.

But this last season he proved that he wasn’t just the too short Division II prospect that could only start when the guys ahead of him were on IR.

Ranked as PFFs #2 Slot corner, he was at the top of his game. Yet, even with a $424,055 bonus he got thanks to a weird CBA formula, he still “only” made $1,041,935.

Never again, at least not the next four years when he is guaranteed to make $18 million and up to $36 million with incentives. And this is considering he had one year left on his deal, plus an RFA tag. So the Colts didn’t really have to extend him until the end of 2020.

Consider this an apology from Chris Ballard for taking so long to watch his film.