One of the players who has been getting a lot of buzz in the last month has been Connecticut Outside Linebacker Sio Moore after people have caught on to everything Moore can do. Moore is a versatile player that has played all over the field at a number of positions. Adding to that versatility, Moore brings a lot of passion and energy to a conversation about football and we talked about his career, the all star games, his teammates, and why he believes he is the best linebacker in the draft.
Peter Smith: You grew up in North Carolina, so how did you end up at UConn?
Sio Moore: I actually lived in North Carolina with my sister. My mom was up here in Connecticut and I actually came to visit my mother during that time. When I come to visit my mom, I got up with an old coach and he was like,”You might want to think about coming to a camp.” He made a phone call to one of the guys he knew at UConn and brought me up there. I did my 40, my vert, and whatnot; and then some man to man drills and then left with a scholarship.
PS: Talk about your sophomore year; your first as a starter and what was basically a playoff race for the division starting 3-4 and then winning the last 5 in a row to win the Big East.
SM: Oh man, That was one hell of a year. We really grinded it out that year; it was a trying year and I was glad we were able to come out on top. That really showed the perseverance of our team and the type of guys that we had. A lot of people wrote us off but we just kept our head down and kept plugging away.
PS: Talk about your relationship with Coach Randy Edsall.
SM: Coach Edsall, that’s my old man right there; that’s my guy. He’s always been on my side and he’s always worked very hard with me because he saw a lot of potential. He was the only guy that really believed in me and gave me a chance or a shot to do anything. For me, I really appreciate that just because he taught me some of the things that, not even have anything to do with football, but about life. About accountability and being a good person because being a good person will only help you for yourself; that’s what he did and that’s what he taught me throughout the years. Being a good person, it shows in your play and the type of person you are when you get out there on the field, because you’re not working for yourself anymore. You’re doing things for the betterment of the team and everyone around you. When you do things like that, what ends up happening is, the payout is worth everything because it’s not about you; it’s about everyone else and when you see the people happy and the people around you doing everything, it’s beyond fulfilling.
PS: With that kind of relationship with Coach Edsall, how did his departure to Maryland impact you?
SM: Obviously, I was hurt, because he was very close to me; I didn’t want him to leave. At the same time, I understand the circumstances as well. He had to do what he had to do for his family, but he gave me all the tools I needed to continue on, whether he was there or not. When he left, I was alright.
PS: What’s your relationship with him now?
SM: It’s a good one. I had a 45 minute conversation with him a couple weeks ago and we sat just and chopped it up and we talked and whatnot. It was a great conversation with him and I loved every bit of it.
PS: Paul Pasqualoni came in for the last two years; how has that been different?
SM: You know Coach P added so much to my game because he really taught me and showed me what I really needed to do and what I needed to be in terms of trying to make it to the next level. I watch so much DeMarcus Ware tape; he coached me up on how to use my hands and use my hands violently. He taught me to be more of a student of the game. You talk about a guy who knows football; he knows football like the back of his hand. And then Coach (Dan) Brown gave me the flexibility to do any and everything in the defense, playing and position, whether it’s linebacker, DEnd, a down free safety. He really believed in me and it all came from Coach Brown and Coach P.
PS: PS: With the way they moved you around so much, playing different positions and looks give you an advantage going to the NFL?
SM: I think so, man. I really believe I’m the best linebacker in the class. I know it. I think I’m a guy that there’s no point in which you can look at me and say he can’t do this or he can’t do that. I can do everything on the field, plus lead, plus be the energy, plus provide my team with whatever it takes or whatever it entails to be good.
PS: Talk about the fact the team success was not there the last two years in terms of wins, but you had a ton of personal success those two years and taking off as a player.
SM: I think taking off as a player just came from trying to grow as a person and letting it show on the field, just how much I’m growing and how much I’m trying to grow each and every day. It’s unfortunate our season went the way it did, because we’re really a better team than what that record shows and everybody knows that and every team that we played understands and knows that and it’s good to have that respect and to get that respect from guys, because we really do work that hard.
PS: You said you’re the best linebacker in the draft; does that mean are not looking at you for defensive end at all? Just linebacker?
SM: I know first and foremost I’m being looked at linebacker. It just so happens that I have the intangibles to play coming off the edge with my hand down or coming from a 2-point. All it does is help my case.
PS: Are 4-3 teams looking at you for a SAM backer or just OLB in a 3-4 scheme?
SM: From 4-3 teams, I’ve got SAM, MIKE, and WILL and coming off the edge as well. There’s a little bit of everything.
PS: What were you looking to prove at the East-West Shrine Game?
SM: That I was better than what people had thought and really, it was just another opportunity to put that Connecticut helmet on again. I’m proud of where I come from and proud of my university and really show that we have good players. Our school, my school, makes good players with good people. It was a great opportunity and another opportunity to show why I’m the best linebacker. I was able to get another opportunity go down to Alabama and play in the Senior Bowl to prove that again, with more talent and more guys.
PS: Was your approach a little different going to the Senior Bowl after having played in the East-West Shrine Game? And what was it like being able to play with your defensive teammates from UConn?
SM: The thing about the Senior Bowl, it was really just another opportunity to play with guys again and play with, if you want to say more talented guys with a bigger opportunity to show that I’m no different and/or better. I think that’s what I tried to go out there and do, but like I said, one more opportunity to play with that helmet. And then the biggest part was being to play with that helmet on with my other guys that I’ve been in school with since Summer ’08. To go out with those guys who are my best friends; no better way to go out.
PS: Could you give me a few of your thoughts on those guys like DE/OLB Trevardo Williams, CB Blidi Wreh- Wilson, and CB Dwayne Gratz.
SM: Trevardo’s not just fast, man. Trevardo plays fast and he and has more fundamental technique than people will credit him for; he has strong hands. I learned a lot from him coming off the edge and playing near the line of scrimmage. He’s a hard working guy. Blidi is one of the most dependable people out there. Like I said before Blidi before every game; my biggest thing with him, when the game starts, I don’t even want to know that he’s here, because that’s how he plays. He’s not going to allow anything to happen on his side of the ball. On top of that, you have a guy like Dwayne Gratz; he plays with a chip on his shoulder the same way I do. He goes out there and plays pissed off; he gets after it. He’s out there to make plays. When you have the ying and yang on the outside and then you got two guys on the inside, and then along with the rest of the defense, things can get very scary.
PS: Is there one overriding characteristic you would attribute to this UConn defense?
SM: We know how to how our jobs and we know how to do it effectively and we know how to play with a chip on our shoulder. You can’t teach guys to just play with attitude. You’ve got to play with attitude that says I want to win and I want to dominate. You can’t teach that; that comes with the person. And I think all of the guys from UConn; we all play the same way.
PS: With you and Trevardo, there seems to be this will; you guys just will not die out there
SM: Oh no. That’s not part of the DNA, man. We go get the job done no matter what or who is in front of us. When I stop on the line and there’s a tackle, I don’t even think about “Oh, what is he going to do?” I think “You’re beat and if you put up a good fight, I’m a come back and try to whoop on you some more until I where I got to go.”
PS: For people who aren’t familiar with you, break down what you do
SM: Dominate tight ends, man to man coverage, run game, play in the box, play the SAM, MIKE, or WILL position, cover receivers in the slot man to man, cover tight ends man to man, get to the quarterback; I think that’s what the game is about; being an effective leader and being a productive guy, because in order to be a leader, you need to set an example , give people something to work towards and set a precedent.
PS: Tell me about a high school coach that has helped you develop in your career.
SM: My high schooles, Coach Bristol and Coach Wolf out of Apex High. Those guys stuck to me and they worked with me, day in and day out, on doing the little things, the details, and working on myself as a person and focusing in on the little things and the intangibles that you don’t get from football but help me with football. I just off the phone with my old coach, Coach Bristol, less than 10 minutes ago before talking to you, and the same thing, he said, ”Make sure you carry yourself in a first class manner.” That’s what I believe and that’s what I do and that’s all because of those guys down there.
PS: Is there a sense that people doubt UConn because they’ve had guys drafted early and not translated to the field in the NFL?
SM: I can’t worry about the doubt, man, because the thing is I’m used to being doubted and people not getting the credit or the benefit of the doubt, which is fine. All you do is show up or show out. Every year, every class is different. This year, speaking on my class, I know that we’ve got true ball players. We’ve got guys that are going to make a difference; not probably will or whatnot. They are going to make a difference because they’ve put in the proper and necessary work to develop themselves as people and players. A lot of the guys you’re seeing at our school that are doing well throughout the process now; I guarantee you if they went to one of those bigger schools, they wouldn’t be this thing about being underrated or a sleeper or whatnot.
PS: When your name is called on draft, will you go with your full first name, Snorsio?
SM: Shoot, I hope they do. If they do, it’s more power.
PS: I’ve just never heard anyone refer to you as Snorsio.
SM: It’s just been so common and so easy to go by Sio. Everybody calls me that, my mom calls me that. The only time I’m called Snorsio is usually when I’m in trouble.
The confidence, energy, and passion in addition he brings to a conversation is the same he brings on the field making it easy to like him and root for him. Whoever gets Moore, he is going to do everything he can to prove he is the best linebacker in the draft and it is going to be fun to watch. Good luck to him and his UConn teammates as they take the next step in their careers.