COLUMBIA — Gilbert Moye’s last game experience was bittersweet. Moye registered 10 solo tackles and three tipped passes, but could not get a similar performance as a quarterback in a 49-14 district playoff game loss.
“I shined more on offense than I did on defense,” the freshman said.
Moye was recruited by Tiger defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus as an athlete and is one of a few of Tiger personnel who will add a depth to the Missouri defense by jumping to the other side of the ball. High school footage of Moye showed a combination of speed and throwing ability that seemed to fit in well with the spread option offense of the Missouri Tigers.
Though other players might have had reservations about the move, Moye accepted it without hesitation.
Moye, a four-star athlete according to the Rivals.com recruiting system, looked at the move as a chance to see the field faster than he expected and help the team out immediately.
“I had no problem with it as long as I had an opportunity to compete on the field,” Moye said.
Eberflus, who is also the safety position coach, said that while Moye’s transition has been a little rough, he benefits from having played the position in the past. A lot of the growing pains for players coming from offense to defense, he said, are learning fundamental defensive skills such as dropping back into coverage and coming off of a block.
Having some grasp of those concepts has helped with Moye’s adjustment in his new role.
“He understands the fundamentals of it and understands the position in the basic sense,” Eberflus said. “He has worked very hard over the past 20 practices to get that done and has done a good job with that.”
Safeties are commonly thought of as a defensive counterpart to quarterbackss because of how they are positioned and the decisions and leadership skills they must possess--an ironic comparison when Moye explains that his experience as a quarterback has aided him in making the permanent jump from offense to defense a smooth one.
“I think an advantage that I have is that I still think like a quarterback when I play safety,” Moye said. “It allows me to know when to make the break on a ball and recognize what kind of offense is being run.”
That knowledge has resulted in Moye currently being listed as the third team strong safety behind senior starter Pig Brown and backup Justin Garrett. But the athletic ability and effort he has been putting in the past three weeks to get acclimated to his new position has impressed his coaches and could be the difference between a seeing a redshirt or seeing the field this season.
“We always look for athletes to put on defense and understanding where he is athletically and having recruited him, I think he has a chance to help us this year and possibly get some time,” Eberflus said.