MOBILE, Ala. — Nick Moore didn’t grow up dreaming of becoming a long snapper, but the 26-year-old Snellville product did have visions of becoming a great football player.
That’s where Moore finds himself today, mixed among the best in the nation at the Senior Bowl, the premier college all-star game.
The practices leading up to the game (TV: 2:30 p.m. Saturday, NFL Network) are auditions, the field literally surrounded by hundreds of NFL types including general managers, head coaches and scouts.
If personality and charisma was part of the draft evaluation process, the 26-year-old Moore would be a first-round pick.
But there’s a harsh reality to his position that he knows all too well.
“This past year there were only five teams that took two long snappers to camp, so that means there were only 37 long snappers on teams,” said Moore, who picked up long snapping in sixth grade, doubling as the team’s quarterback before going on to play safety and receiver in high school.
“Teams bring in guys to give the older long snappers competition, it’s a hard job to win,” Moore said. “A lot of it comes down to trust. The coach has to have that sense of security where they aren’t worrying about the snap.”
Moore didn’t win the Georgia long-snapping job until last spring, and even then, he had to fend off more competition in fall drills.
But then, the 6-foot-2, 246-pound Moore didn’t go all in, full-time at long snapper until the 2017 season, and he’s started in only 17 games.
Baseball to linebacker
Originally, many Bulldogs fans will recall, Moore was brought in at Georgia by former coach Mark Richt as a linebacker after completing four years out of high school in baseball’s minor leagues.
Moore had chosen baseball over football coming out of Brookwood High School. He was a 30th-round pick of the Boston Red Sox in 2011 who could play first base and third base.
“I had a couple football scholarship offers coming out of high school, Air Force, Georgia Southern — back when they were I-AA — and Furman,” Moore said. “I was committed to Kennesaw to play baseball.”
Most of Moore’s four years in the minor leagues were spent in Lowell, Mass., at the Single A level.
Moore’s parents only got to see him play 20 or so pro games, so when it came time to pick a football program, he wanted to stay close to home. Georgia Tech, Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi State were the schools Moore visited before selecting the Bulldogs.
It didn’t take long before former Bulldogs defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt sent Moore from the linebackers room to the offensive side of the ball to play fullback.
“I was playing linebacker with Roquan Smith. Natrez Patrick and Juwan Taylor, and you quickly realize those guys are super athletes,” Moore said. “Coach Pruitt felt it was best to move me to fullback. We’d had a couple guys go down at that position in camp with minor injuries.
“I ended up getting a little playing time against Southern University, so I played like five or six snaps in 2015.”
Five or six snaps wasn’t much to show for all the work Moore had put in, and then Kirby Smart and offensive coordinator Jim Chaney came in at Georgia.
The fullback position was essentially phased out; it would have seemed like a convenient juncture for Moore to walk away from football.
Smart’s fiery leadership and enthusiasm, however, was contagious and served to keep Moore engaged.
“Coach Richt was a phenomenal guy, a great guy who treated everyone like we were part of his family,” Moore said. “Coach Smart brought a spark, he brought high energy, all the time, he doesn’t do anything halfway, it’s all out, all the time.
“He likes to be in the thick of it, he’s a very hands-on coach, he knows everything about everything we do at Georgia, offense and defense, and special teams,” Moore said. “He’s the smartest man on the field at all times, he’s a wizard.”
Moore got his break when former assistant Shane Beamer tabbed him to compete for long snapper duties.
“Coach Beamer heard through the grapevine I could snap, so I was working at fullback and working on long snapping in 2017,” Moore said. “I played kick return that year and spent a lot of time on scout team, and also working on long snapper.”
Beamer, son of legendary Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer, learned a lot from his father as far as judging players, and he felt Moore a winner.
“Nick wasn’t your normal, every day guy out of high school, he had played minor league baseball and he had some maturity about him because of the road he traveled,” Beamer told DawgNation on Friday. “I give a lot of credit to Nick, he worked his butt off to become a really good snapper.
“I’m fired up to watch him play in the Senior Bowl.”
Nick Moore has had a strong Senior Bowl week in Mobile
Senior Bowl week
Defensive lineman Jonathan Ledbetter, the only other Georgia player at the Senior Bowl this year, said Moore’s special teams play stood out even before the week of practice in Mobile.
“Nick is a guy that can snap the ball, but also, he runs down the field and gets some action,” said Ledbetter, who would line up across from Moore in practice as part of UGA’s field goal block team. “He’s pretty fast to be a long snapper and he’s athletic. I think he’ll be successful at the next level because of that.
“Nick’s a guy you want on your team, and he’s mature, like all guys at Georgia we have that straight edge thing because of Kirby and that discipline he puts in us,” Ledbetter said. “But Nick’s play speaks for itself, and he’s been having a great week at the Senior Bowl.”
Moore’s sports background reveals his tenacity and ability to adapt, and his size and athleticism should lead to a free-agent contract and opportunity to compete with an established veteran for one of those covered long-snapper jobs in the NFL.
But Moore is prepared for life should football not work out, a double major in finance and mathematics.
“It took me all of three years to get where I am today snapping, and I still have a lot of things i can improve on to be able to put every snap where I want to put it,” Moore said. “It’s like hitting in baseball, no matter how well you hit, you can always get better.”
DawgNation Senior Bowl coverage