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Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Four-star CB Moore signs with Sooners

By Bob Przybylo

It was around November when four-star cornerback L.J. Moore (Fresno, Calif./Central East) thought there was no chance he was ever going to commit to Oklahoma.

Moore, who is 6-foot and 164 pounds and ranked No. 29 at cornerback, had a lot of OU interest in the summer and had planned for an official visit in October. When the visit never materialized, he thought it was over.

Thinking about that moment made Wednesday afternoon that much sweeter as Moore signed his national letter of intent to the Sooners.

“I remember thinking there was no way I was going to end up there,” Moore said. “It really is crazy how it all happened.”

Moore had developed a solid relationship with OU defensive backs coach Mike Stoops during the spring and summer. Following the regular season, Stoops wanted to check in on OU commit ESPN 300 safety Hatari Byrd, Moore’s teammate.

If that visit to Fresno Central East never happened, Moore isn’t headed to Norman with Byrd this summer.

It was during that visit Moore and Stoops reconnected, setting up a second attempt at an official visit Jan. 11.

Once again, rumors ran rampant saying that visit was canceled. Less than a week from the visit, Moore confirmed he would make the trip.

The trip was so good that OU went from being a dark horse to being a real contender to land Moore.

“I felt like it could be my future home,” Moore said. “I started talking with Coach Bob Stoops more and felt more and more comfortable.”

And then OU could use its ace in the hole in Byrd. When Byrd committed to OU on July 31, he developed a blind love for the Sooners. He would constantly hound Moore about how great OU is.

After Byrd’s official visit to OU in October, it only got worse. Moore wasn’t sure what he thought about it all. Turns out Byrd knew something even Moore didn’t.

“I get to play next to my brother,” Moore said. “It’s going to be great to play alongside him. He was in my ear every single day. He kept telling me how great OU is every single day.”

Oregon State was the original leader for Moore, but the Sooners actually beat out Arizona State for Moore, he said.

Moore took an official visit to Arizona State the weekend after his trip to OU. He loved it there. But when he was able to be removed from the emotion, he started to realize OU was the place for him.

Stoops made one more in-home visit last week. Moore told Stoops he was ready to be a Sooner and Stoops could stop recruiting.

“It was like a week ago,” Moore said. “Me and my parents talked everything out and listed pros and cons. This is the best choice for me.”

Coincidentally, Moore and Byrd weren’t OU’s first choice at Fresno Central East. Mike Stoops first went to the school to look at ESPN 300 cornerback Johnny Johnson Jr. He got the first offer and then Moore and Byrd followed later. Johnson ended up signing with UCLA.

Moore might end up being the final piece of OU’s puzzle for 2013. He is the 24th signee of the group and fulfills the promise Stoops made before the season he was looking to sign five defensive backs.

Moore will also have another reason to distinguish himself. OU fans rejoiced in a major way when learning Moore was coming to Norman.

The Sooners had struck out, missing out on three other signing day targets. ESPN 300 athlete Adrian Baker (Hollywood, Fla./Chaminade-Madonna) chose Clemson. Three-star offensive tackle George Adeosun (Alpharetta, Ga./Alpharetta) went to Virginia, while four-star offensive lineman Josh Outlaw (Lithonia, Ga./Martin Luther King) picked Texas Tech.

But the best decision was saved for last if you ask OU fans. There was not a second of hesitation when Moore picked OU’s hat from his choices.

“The great tradition is something you cannot ignore,” Moore said. “I built that great relationship with both Stoops, Bob and Mike.

“As it got closer to signing day, we started talking more and more about the defense and where I fit in. I know I’ve made the right choice.”

What is the impact of Moore’s decision?

What it means for OU: It’s a major win for defensive backs coach Mike Stoops. It looked like Moore was a lost cause in December, but Stoops put in the work. It gives Stoops the class he said he was looking for. He wanted five defensive backs. He has them in three cornerbacks and two safeties.

What it means for the teams that lost out: Oregon State is not hurting at cornerback with two of its top commits at the position, but it felt like Moore was a slight Beavers lean going into the last month. Moore would have been the top cornerback signee for the Sun Devils, but ASU also got some insurance at the spot in the last couple of weeks that made it appear ASU knew Moore wasn’t coming.

Turning point: Getting Moore to OU’s campus. It took two scheduled official visits to get Moore to actually arrive on OU’s campus, but it was well worth it. Once he got to see the facilities, soak in the atmosphere and talk with the coaches, he realized what Byrd had realized six months before him that OU was a great spot to be.

Surprise (scale of 1-5): 3. The last couple of weeks it felt like Oregon State and OU were duking it out. The Beavers had a strong early lead, but the Sooners did work down the stretch. Because of how much closer Oregon State is to home, it’s a bit of a shock OU won the battle.

Immediate impact (scale of 1-5): 4. OU is set at one corner position with Aaron Colvin, but there is no guarantee who that second corner is going to be. Moore should have a big opportunity to impress and earn his spot.