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Student Sports/special
Elijah Moore and his high school team will face California powerhouse St. John Bosco on Friday.

Coachspeak: What is UGA getting in 4-star commit Elijah Moore?

Want a daily lap through Georgia football recruiting? That’s what the Intel will bring at least five days a week. This edition brings an in-depth look at 4-star WR Elijah Moore. Moore committed to UGA last week, and well…that was a busy week. 

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Elijah Moore committed to Georgia a week ago. The speedster (St. Thomas Aquinas/Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) was the program’s second highest-rated commit of 2018.

That distinction lasted for about 43 hours.

Moore’s news was eclipsed, ahem, by the other big news cycles for UGA recruiting last week: the subsequent announcements that 4-star DE Azeez Ojulari and 4-star WR Kearis Jackson would come to UGA, too.

So why all the fuss about Moore, a receiver prospect who finished his junior year with 9 catches for 42 yards in seven games of action?

Elijah Moore-UGA recruiting
Four-star WR Elijah Moore caught 7 passes as a junior last year. Why was he still such a big target for UGA? (Student Sports/ Special)

He’s rated as a 3-star receiver and the nation’s No. 50 prospect by 247Sports but the combined 247Sports composite has him as a 4-star recruit and the nation’s No. 38 prospect at that spot.

Look for Moore to have a big senior season and goose those ratings by December.

Why? St. Thomas Aquinas coach Roger Harriott explains that best.

“He is an extremely explosive and dynamic player,” Harriott said. “He is gifted with superior athleticism.”

What immediately jumps out regarding his skill set?

“He does a great job of getting open and also utilizing his ball skills,” Harriott said.

Harriott and his staff never have timed Moore in the 40. But he said the 5-foot-11, 180-pound player has clocked several 10.7s in the 100 meters.

Moore will be on a very big stage for St. Thomas Aquinas this week, which hosts California power St. John Bosco. The Braves are rated No. 3 nationally in the latest MaxPreps rankings.

It likely will be the biggest game of the season for Moore and his Raiders.

Elijah Moore had to wait his turn 

Moore is a member of a powerhouse program at St. Thomas Aquinas. MaxPreps.com ranks the Raiders as the nation’s No. 17 team.

They won Florida’s Class 7A state championship last year with a senior-heavy rotation at receiver. The Raiders had a lot of players wait for their meaningful reps as a senior.

Moore saw a quartet of senior receivers ahead of him on the depth chart record at least 30 catches in 2016. He transferred to St. Thomas Aquinas after his sophomore season.

“We’re extremely favorable to our seniors, and we have a tremendous amount of athletes in our program,” Harriott said. “Our environment is extremely competitive. Elijah did a great job of getting acclimated early. However, it takes some time to get adjusted to the holistic requirements at St. Thomas. St. Thomas is a spiritually oriented program and the expectations from an academic level are high, and you must then be very competitive on the athletic field as well.

“It was just a lot for him to digest at St. Thomas early on, and it takes time here to gain your footing. We also had a number of seniors we wanted to showcase and help them establish their intercollegiate résumés last season. Our focus was to help those other guys and get them off to college.”

He appreciated the way Moore handled that.

“Elijah is a very selfless individual,” Harriott said. “He played his role and waited his turn. When he was called on to contribute, he did it to the best of his ability and never really complained about his playing time. He waited his turn and had an exceptional offseason. He has established himself as a leader and is now one of the captains of our team.”

Check the clip below. The fact that Moore has that level of agility and acceleration and then had to wait his turn says a lot about the athletes at St. Thomas Aquinas.

What Georgia receivers coach James Coley saw in Elijah Moore

The entire recruiting process between UGA and Moore took less than five weeks. When Moore tweeted his top 3 on July 2 at The Opening in Oregon, the Bulldogs weren’t even in it.

Georgia receivers coach James Coley spent time on the coaching staffs of both Florida State and Miami. He has a great reputation with the high school coaches in the area.

South Florida has a lot of speed. But Coley wanted to see more than that.

“Coach Coley has always been impressed with Elijah, but I think what he wanted to see [was] his character and his work ethic,” Harriott said. “That’s because nowadays the landscape is saturated with athletic players. Especially at receiver. Georgia evaluated the work ethic and the integrity of the player here in regard to how they conduct themselves as teammates and community members.

“Coach Coley does a great job of identifying those kids. As a result, the Dawgs should have a substantial amount of success going forward.”

Harriott said Moore told him he was impressed with the UGA culture. The mix of academics, athletics, discipline, culture, family and structure seemed very familiar.

“He said it was pretty much a parallel environment like we have at St. Thomas Aquinas,” Harriott said. “I think that was one of the things which really drew him to Georgia when he took his unofficial visit.”

Moore cannot enroll early at Georgia early since early graduation is not offered at St. Thomas Aquinas. Harriott said Moore is already fully qualified.

“Georgia does a good job of being on top of that,” Harriott said. “It seems to me that Georgia feels that a player’s academic profile is a direct reflection of their character and work ethic. Georgia is really shifting their recruiting toward the true student-athlete.”

Some interesting timing at work

Ole Miss was in that top 3 that Moore tweeted in July. He was on his way to an important unofficial visit to Ole Miss when he learned that Hugh Freeze had been fired.

Let’s be clear. The Freeze news alone didn’t derail the possibility of Moore committing to Ole Miss. Harriott said that Moore had researched the sanctions and the allegations concerning that football program.

“He had a strong admiration for Ole Miss and their staff and what they had done to make him feel comfortable with their institution, but there was always that discomfort of the potential violations and eligibility issues that were starting to come to fruition,” Harriott said.

Still, that seemingly opened the door for Georgia.

“I guess right around that time frame was when coach Coley contacted me about Elijah and asked me what it would take to get Georgia involved into his recruiting process,” Harriott said. “I told him that the University of Georgia’s reputation speaks for itself. It was a prestigious institution with great football tradition. Why wouldn’t Georgia be an option for anybody?”

Did you see this on DawgNation?

DawgNation published its first ranking of the top 30 players in the state of Georgia Monday. It is a good example of how no two opinions are alike about these prospects.

Everybody has one. These rankings came from two-plus years of watching Georgia’s best compete and perform on Friday nights, plus all the requisite camps and all-star events.

The top 3 prospects weren’t that hard to figure out. But the order of those three didn’t come easy. There was a lot of shuffling and reshuffling there.

Doing that list the right way also requires ranking more than just the top 30. This list will be re-rated accordingly based on how the Peach State’s finest develop throughout their senior seasons.

As a bonus, we present the players rated No. 31 to No. 35 here, in reverse order.

  • 35. 3-star DT Jaquon Griffin (6-foot-o, 265 pounds), Rome; committed to LSU
  • 34. 4-star CB Christian Tutt (5-10 1/2, 190), Thomson; undecided
  • 33 4-star RB Dameon Pierce (5-11, 205), Bainbridge; committed to Florida
  • 32. 3-star DB Taiyon Palmer (6-0, 175), Archer; committed to Duke
  • 31. 4-star LB Michael Harris (6-3, 210), Tucker; committed to Auburn

Did you miss a day of Intel? Well, the DawgNation recruiting archive will get you up to Mecole Hardman speed before your tailgate crew can worry anymore about all the freshman offensive linemen who will have to play this fall.

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