“I’m ready to turn it loose”: Devin Moore recaps first two years, improvements this offseason

On national signing day in 2022, Billy Napier and his newly acquired staff landed one of the better players in Florida’s class in former four-star defensive back Devin Moore. The potential and talent have always been there for the 6-2.75, 197-pound cornerback, but the constant injuries have held back the third-year player throughout his career.

In his first season with the Gators, Moore carved out a significant role as a true freshman, playing in the first five games while averaging 33.4 snaps per game before suffering a season-ending injury. In 2023, Moore recorded six total tackles, three pass break ups, and one interception while appearing in just seven games. It’s been an unfortunate ride for the Naples native, but he’s ready to show out in 2024.

“I’m 100% healthy and I’m ready to turn it loose,” Moore told the media during spring camp.

“I was definitely at my lowest a few moments between that season,” Moore said on missing time last season. “But, you know, the support I had from my teammates, coaches, training staff, I took a lot of lessons out of it, how to treat my body weight better, it’s all about the things you eat, you know just the little things, all the little things I could do to just prevent any of that stuff from happening. That’s kind of what I took away from it.”

This offseason was important to Moore as he’s missed significant time throughout his first two collegiate seasons. He focused on improving his body in effort to maximize his 2024 season.

“My offseason approach was just work hard, trust my coaching, and just growing with my teammates,” Moore said on his offseason. “I did gain a few pounds, got leaner, faster, bigger, stronger, those type of things, but that’s credit to the coaching staff and the strength staff, they put a lot of hard work in to develop individual programs for all of us.”

It’s important that Moore’s technique continues to improve throughout the rest of the spring as he’s always had the physical tools to be successful. Moore believes the addition of Will Harris will help him in this area.

“I’d definitely say technique,” Moore said on his biggest improvement. “I put a big emphasis on that because I feel like it would just be a bonus to have my physical traits on top of that and just being able to learn from coach Harris, just bring all the new knowledge he brought and just apply it on the field, technique wise.”

It’s hard for these players in the defensive back room to not give 100 percent every play with the style of coaching Will Harris brings to the table. The passion is unmatched, and the defensive backs feed off that.

“I’m sure y’all saw the clip of J-Marsh tackling coach. He’s like a player coach, he got cleats on, he is running around out there, tagging off on the running back while we tagging off on the running back,” Moore said on Harris’ style of coaching. “He’s out there running routes and playing receiver while we working the drill. It’s a great feeling, definitely allows you to get closer to your coach, you grind better with him too.”

The biggest focus for the defensive backs is the improvement of tackling in 2024. The Gators missed 116 tackles last season with an average of 9.67 missed tackles a game. With the emphasis Coach Harris places on tackling, that area is bound to improve this upcoming season.  Napier told the media after Florida’s second spring scrimmage that this is the best Florida’s defense has tackled since they arrived, particularly the secondary.

“It’s very important,” Moore said on the improvement of tackling as a team. “The coaching staff, they develop a great program for us, a tackling circuit, we rep open field tackling damn near every period out of the day. It’s a real big emphasis on it, and you know all the players, we take that as a challenge, that’s a challenge for us. Anytime we get an opportunity it’s damn near like a game.”

With Moore back at full strength for the first time since the loss against Florida State last season, his strive and hunger to reach his full potential in 2024 should give Gators’ fans some hope in the secondary.

“You’re just going to see a guy just giving receivers all they can handle, really,” Moore said on what to expect from him this upcoming season. “I like to play really physical, because I feel like I got the speed to run, and then my coaches they help me with my technique, try and be a real technician too not just rely on physical traits, just try to be a real technician as if I was really unathletic and things of that nature. Trying to be a real technician and then just have the physical traits on top of it.”

The Gators return both Devin Moore and Jason Marshall at cornerback while bringing in several new faces to fill out the safety room in Asa Turner, DJ Douglas, Trikweze Bridges, Josiah Davis and Gregory Smith. With the help of better coaching, accountability, and experienced players, both Devin Moore and this Gators’ secondary should see drastic improvement when the fall season comes around.

Gentry Hawk
Gentry Hawk is a student at the University of Florida studying sports journalism. He is a writer and reporter for GatorCountry. You can find most of his work on Twitter @gentryhawkgc, or right here on Gator country.