KNOXVILLE — The hardest part is over for Denarius Moore.
For the hundreds of players hoping to hear their names called during this weekend’s NFL draft, the hoping and the waiting for the phone calls fulfilling their dreams can be torturous.
That’s not how it is for Moore, the former University of Tennessee wide receiver.
“This week right here is probably more like relaxation period just because I’m done flying in and out and visiting teams,” Moore said in a phone interview Wednesday evening from his hometown of Tatum, Texas. “You still want to try to stay in shape, so you’re going to work out on your own, but since you’re done with teams and since you’re done working out, it’s just a period where you’re just waiting it out.”
After no former Volunteers were taken in the first round for the first time since 2005, tight end Luke Stocker likely will be the first UT player off the board. Most projections have the 6-foot-5, 258-pound Stocker going sometime in today’s second or third rounds.
Moore is the only other Vol who has appeared in most mock drafts, but other former players such as defensive end Chris Walker, defensive tackle Victor Thomas, linebacker/fullback Nick Reveiz, receiver Gerald Jones and offensive lineman Jarrod Shaw could get NFL shots as undrafted free agents.
ESPN analyst Todd McShay rated the 6-foot, 194-pound Moore as the No. 26 receiver in the draft and a mid-to-late-round pick. Moore said he could be picked sometime today, but most projections have him going Saturday during rounds four through seven.
“I think it boosted me up a whole bunch,” Moore said of his strong senior campaign, “simply because from what I’ve been hearing, the second half of my senior season, that’s what really got me up there on the charts and that’s what really got my name out there to most scouts.”
If that performance — 47 catches for 981 yards (21 yards per catch) and nine touchdowns — last season for the Vols got Moore’s name out there, his performance at February’s NFL combine in Indianapolis improved his chances of being selected this weekend.
“The atmosphere was different than what I thought it was going to be,” Moore said. “I thought it was going to be no fun, no games and stuff like that, but when I got there, the coaches were telling me to loosen up, it’s not that big of a deal, and they just wanted to get to know you and see what you can do. As far as performance, I think I did better than I thought I was going to do at certain positions, in certain spots, and I was really pleased with it.
Moore ran the 40-yard sprint in 4.45 seconds, which put him eighth among wideouts at the combine.
“I was just focusing on what I needed to get done,” Moore said. “Yes, I was talking to a couple of players here and there, but when it came down to me coming up and showing them what I’m supposed to do, I just tuned everything out, did what I was supposed to do and performed really well.”
Between the end of his UT career and the combine, Moore went to Miami to work with trainer Ton Villani and XPE sports, where former Vols Eric Berry, Jason Allen, Jerod Mayo and Jamal Lewis also trained, according to the program’s website.
Now all that’s left for Moore is to see what’s next as he chases the dream he’s had since his football career began in fourth grade.
“I used to watch the Dallas Cowboys with my daddy, and I wanted to say, ‘That’s going to be me one day,’” said Moore, who will watch the draft with family and other loved ones. “It’s not that I’m nervous or stressed out or anything, because I did all I could leading up to this point. Now it’s just in their hands depending on which team wants me bad enough or which team takes me.”
Patrick Brown has been the University of Tennessee beat writer since January 2011. A native of Memphis, Brown graduated from UT in May of 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism/Electronic Media and worked at the Knoxville News Sentinel for two years on the sports editorial staff and as a freelance contributor. If it’s the NBA, the NFL or SEC football and basketball, he’s probably reading about it or watching it on TV. Contact him ...