When Jordan Moore lost his angelic voice to puberty, before his freshman year of high school, the lifelong singer who grew up in a church-choir family with a preacher dad, focused his attention on other pursuits.
“I focused on athletics,” said Moore, a running back for the TCU football team and a hurdler for the Horned Frogs’ track and field team. “When my voice dropped I still sang throughout high school but I was trying to find my pitch, what really fit me best.”
He may have been lost vocally at the time, but athletically he was finding his groove.
Moore was the second-best hurdler in the nation and one of the nation’s top recruits as a safety at Martin Luther King High School in Atlanta when he chose TCU over Auburn, USC and Ohio State.
He played in 11 games as a true freshman — mostly on special teams — for the Frogs in 2012. After being moved from linebacker to running back before the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, Moore tore his anterior cruciate ligament in practice on his birthday, Dec. 13, and missed the bowl and his entire freshman track season.
The time away from the field was a shot to the gut for a kid who had been competing at this or that sport since he was old enough to suit up.
“It was a hard process, but it was God’s way of slowing me down,” Moore said. “I was going at a fast pace. I thought I knew it all and I knew what I wanted to do and I wanted it now. That was God’s way of letting me know he’s always going to be in control. Always.”
During his time recovering from knee surgery, Moore rediscovered his voice. He’d find time to sit at the piano in the TCU student union until he locked in on the right pitch. He also plays the drums. “I’ll come in here by myself and sing my heart out on the piano for an hour and a half,” he said.
Moore hopes the low he experienced a winter ago will be paired with a breakout season on the football field in 2014. He only had 20 carries for 87 yards and a touchdown in 2013, playing behind B.J. Catalon, Waymon James and Aaron Green for much of the season.
If his early success this season in the hurdles is any indication, he’s on the right path. He broke a 14-year-old TCU record in the 60-meter hurdles at the New Mexico Invitational on Feb. 1.
Later in the meet finals, he reset the record with a time of 7.72 seconds. TCU track and field coach Darryl Anderson said the top 10 time should secure Moore a spot at the NCAA indoor championships.
It’s hard to fathom, in light of his success, that as a high school all-America hurdler he was told by a few that he was too big to run hurdles. For Moore, who’s now 6-foot-3, 221 pounds, it was never an issue, especially with his hurdling hero and 110-meter world champion David Oliver standing at nearly the same size.
“I wanted to be like him when I grew up,” Moore said. “Now, we’re about the same size. I had a replica to look at to see on the hurdles what I want to be like. Everybody is like 180, maybe 6-2. I weighed in at 220 last night. I might drop down to 214 sitting in the sauna, easy. I love the things that track brings, but I’m a football guy who loves to run track. There’s nobody out there who’s 220 running hurdles. Let’s just be real.”
Anderson had no such concerns about Moore’s size. He was aware of Moore before TCU football began to recruit him. Anderson diverges with Moore, however, on whether missing his freshman track season was a blessing in disguise.
“You learn by doing. So when you’re not doing, what are you doing?” said Anderson, before acknowledging that Moore was able to get a handle on school and grow up a bit during his recovery. “Maturity is critical, so he’s obviously going to be more emotionally and mentally mature a year later. From a track standpoint, it would have been nice to have him run last year. I don’t even know if he’ll be here for his fifth year.”
His safeties coach in high school, Derrick Collins, said TCU was a good fit for Moore both academically and athletically.
“The academics were more important to his parents than the football program,” Collins said. “He’s been blessed with a lot of those skills, he’s a good looking kid, and he’s the type of kid that you can build your program around when given the opportunity to do so. This year, hopefully, they’ll unchain the stallion and let him run in football. Let him do what he was born to do.”
Moore’s chance to earn more playing time in the backfield begins March 1, when football spring practice begins. His dream is to play in the NFL. But he’s also realistic about the chances of a pro career. Still, Moore, ever the Renaissance man on campus, knows football and hurdles, and maybe even singing, won’t last forever.
“I’m not always going to be an athlete,” he said. “One day I want to go into a Fortune 500 company. Most of those guys that are going to be in those companies are across that street [from the athletic fields]. So those are some my best friends. I don’t really hang with athletes. I don’t really have time to hang with anybody.”
A Day in the Life
Here’s a look at a typical day in the life of TCU’s two-sport athlete Jordan Moore: