North Texas Daily

Jakii Moore eyes fresh start at North Texas after UAB shutdown

Jakii Moore eyes fresh start at North Texas after UAB shutdown

Jakii Moore eyes fresh start at North Texas after UAB shutdown
September 24
03:14 2015

Reece Waddell | Senior Staff Writer

@ReeceTapout15

After returning from class at the University of Alabama Birmingham last December, junior defensive back Jakii Moore’s cell phone rang as he walked into the football meeting room. His old junior college coach was on the other end.

Nothing seemed out of the ordinary to Moore, thinking his old coach was calling to check in on him. But what happened next, and what would transpire over the next 24 hours, rocked the entire realm of NCAA athletics.

“I said, ‘Hey coach, what’s going on?’” Moore said. “And he said ‘Have you seen ESPN? Have you seen what they’re saying?’ And I remember going ‘No, I haven’t. Why, what’s up?’”

ESPN was reporting that UAB was shutting down its football program amid financial concerns. The reason, as reported by ESPN, was the rapidly increasing cost to field a competitive football team.

“No one could believe it, man.” Moore said. “Everyone was just numb and in shock. Disbelief.”

Moore said no one on the football team was given any advanced information on the program shutdown. In fact, many of his friends and players were in class or walking around campus when the news broke.

“We held a team meeting later that night and the athletic director came in and told us,” Moore said. “There was hardly any yelling or screaming. It was pretty quiet. Some guys were crying.”

When it became official, every player on the UAB roster became immediately eligible for a free transfer by the NCAA. This also meant that players would not have to sit out a year upon transferring, a rule the NCAA enforces on students who complete a regular transfer.

Jakii Moore pauses during a North Texas home game. Moore transferred to North Texas after UAB's football program was closed last season. Dylan Nadwodny | Intern Photographer

Jakii Moore pauses during a North Texas home game. Moore transferred to North Texas after UAB’s football program was closed last season. Dylan Nadwodny | Intern Photographer

It took Moore a while to gather his thoughts, but eventually, he said he knew he had to move forward.

“I had just gotten there in the summer, so I didn’t know what my next move was going to be,” Moore said. “But I ended up getting an offer to come to [North Texas]. It wasn’t easy, it was difficult. It must be the first time in a long time a program has done something like this.”

In fact, UAB became the first major college football program to shut down since the University of Pacific in 1995. Despite the heartache felt for the players and coaches at UAB, many knew there would be opportunities elsewhere.

North Texas head coach Dan McCarney saw those opportunities, which led to the recruitment of Moore to Denton.

“Just a terrible thing they had to go through down there,” McCarney said. “To have the rug pulled right out up from under you, and to no longer have a football program. No one should have to go through that. But we knew when it happened there would be players to recruit, and [Moore] was someone we targeted from the beginning.”

Moore spent a year at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M before transferring to UAB, where was redshirted. McCarney said he and his coaching staff believe in Moore’s ability, especially his athleticism, but so far he has underwhelmed and not contributed much to the team.

“When we brought him here, we expected him to have an immediate impact, even come in here and start for us,” McCarney said. “He hasn’t done that. He’s helping us out on special teams some, but we wanted him to really be a difference maker in the secondary. That hasn’t happened yet. And right now, he isn’t out there strictly from a performance standpoint. He’s healthy and has no injuries.”

Even though the past few months have been a roller coaster for Moore, he has kept a positive attitude. Sophomore linebacker Calvin Minor said despite Moore getting off to a slow start, he remains confident his teammate can turn it around and help the team win games.

“[Moore], he’s a jokester. He’s got a good head on him,” Minor said. “I’ve hung out with him some. He’s a good guy. He doesn’t talk a lot about what happened at UAB, but it’s understandable. We’ve all seen what he can do on the practice field. He hits hard, isn’t passive. He just needs to transfer it to games.”

For now, Moore is still looking to make the starting lineup on defense. And with a depleted secondary that already lost senior Kenny Buyers and redshirt freshman Cedric Fernandes to injuries, now is a perfect opportunity for the UAB transfer to prove himself at North Texas.

“I’m just in a little bit of a slump, that’s all,” Moore said. “I’ll bounce back. I’ll get it back. I know how to fight through things.”

Featured Image: North Texas junior defensive back Jakii Moore stretches during a North Texas football practice. Dylan Nadwodny | Intern Photographer

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