It has become increasingly rare to see place-kickers land full-scholarship offers right out high school. Marist’s Justin Moore ended up with two — and he accepted the one he got from Georgia Tech this weekend.
“Yeah, I’m a Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket,” said Moore, who had been committed to Miami of Ohio since mid-June. “It all happened pretty fast.”
Tech has known about Moore for a long time — he attended their kicking camp the last two years — but was unable to offer him a scholarship when they were maxed out at 12 scholarships most of the fall. But that was before Morgan Burnett, Jonathan Dwyer, Derrick Morgan and Demaryius Thomas declared themselves available for the NFL draft.
That the Jackets were willing to offer up one of the four precious grants-in-aid is a testimony to how coach Paul Johnson and his staff feel about Moore as well as their concerns about the state of their current kicking game.
“I’m pretty sure I was always high on their rankings but they didn’t think they were going to sign a kicker,” said Moore, who earned a Top 12 ranking from the prestigious Chris Sailer kicking camps he attended in Las Vegas each of the last three years. “So there wasn’t really any contact for a long time. But after those four guys went to the NFL, they called last Wednesday and basically offered me. I went to Tech on Friday and did a little unofficial visit. I talked to Coach Johnson and I committed while I was there.”
Moore plans to take his official visit to Tech this weekend.
Tech’s current kicker Scott Blair is will be a senior next season. But Johnson assured Moore he would be given the opportunity to compete for immediate playing time.
“That was one of my questions going in,” Moore said. “Coach Johnson said you wouldn’t be sitting there in that chair if not.”
Blair has been solid but unspectacular during his tenure. The Calhoun native was 14 of 20 on field goals last season and 9 of 14 from beyond 30 yards. He’s a career .667 kicker, .500 (5-of-10) between 40 and 49 yards.
Moore was only 3-of-5 kicking this past season with one attempt blocked. He had 48 touchbacks and also averaged 42-plus yards punting.
Moore’s news was just one pebble in what was a pile coming out on Sunday. Following is a brief summary but check back all day for detailed updates on all the scenarios:
- As reported Sunday, Gainesville quarterback Blake Sims re-committed to Alabama. . . .
- Former Tennessee commitment Michael Taylor, a linebacker from Westlake, officially announced his commitment to Florida. “I actually committed last Sunday [Jan. 10] but I wanted to talk to the Tennessee coaches and had some other things to do. But I made it public today,” Taylor told me Sunday evening. More on all that later. . . .
- Taylor’s teammate, cornerback Darius Robinson, has been offered a scholarship by Georgia Tech. The longtime Clemson pledge says he remains “100 percent committed” to the Tigers but is considering a visit to The Flats. A month ago, Robinson said he’d seriously consider flipping to the Yellow Jackets if they ever offered. . . .
- Daunte Carr, a longtime Stanford commitment, switched to Arkansas on Sunday. There were some questions about whether Carr, a good student, was going to meet the Cardinal’s rigid academic requirements. . . .
- Also heading to Arkansas is Greater Atlanta Christian athlete Julian Horton. Horton, a wide receiver and defensive back, is expecting to play offense for the Razorbacks. . . .
- There were numerous reports that Henry County wide receiver Markeith Ambles abruptly canceled his official visit to Tennessee this past weekend in order to visit North Carolina. Ambles, who has long been committed to the Vols, could not be reached. . . .
- All indications Sunday were that North Gwinnett tackle JaWuan James returned to Tennessee and intends to remain with the Vols. . . .
- Southwest DeKalb’s Marcques Dixon and Troup’s J.C. Copeland reaffirmed their pledges to the Vols after visiting Knoxville this past weekend. . . .
- Stephenson defensive tackle Michael Thornton did not travel to Miami as expected this past weekend but said may still go next weekend. Meanwhile, there are reports out of Alabama that Thornton has eliminated Auburn, though he would neither confirm nor deny. . . .
- Warner Robins defensive tackle Jeff Whitaker visited Auburn this past weekend but said he still plans to visit Georgia and Miami before making a decision on Feb. 1. . . .
- Port St. Lucie, Fla, linebacker Deon Rogers remained a Georgia commitment after he left a visit to Louisville this past weekend. UGA coaches are slated for an in-home on Monday, then Rogers is set for a trip to Mississippi State on Jan. 29. . . .
- Marcus Smith, a 6-3, 205-pound quarterback from Hardaway High in Columbus, did commit to coach Charlie Strong’s Cardinals. Also signing up for Louisville was four-star offensive tackle Torrian Wilson of Miami-Northwestern.