There’s a tradition at this club- blueprint may be a better word. We like our receivers to be tough, fearless, have great hands and hit like a train. Jack Verling may have been the original, but when it comes to those ‘JV’ qualities, Tom Moore is straight out of the same mould. While some young receivers model their game on NFL greats such as Michael Irvin or Calvin Johnson, Solent’s number 82 played the position like Dick Butkus.
Joining the team in 2015, Tom quickly established himself as a devastating blocker in the run game, and a dependable receiver in the passing game. By midway through the season, he had become the favoured receiver in the offense, and was part of that landmark team that went 3-0 in the post-season tournament in Cornwall. Tom looks back on that Cornwall trip as the highlight of his first year, a first year where he also experienced the ‘old’ bad habits of the club - low player numbers at practice, and low coaching numbers in general meant that learning a brand new game was an uphill struggle. Not that you would have ever of suspected that when you saw Moore on the field.
In 2016, as part of the 12-0 youth team, Tom snagged 24 receptions for 245 yards and 11 scores. Although those numbers are good, they become great when you realise that the established starters (Tom, fellow WR James Green and QB Bruin White) were removed from nearly all games for the second half so that the younger rookie talent like James Rooney, Louis Benzey and Scott Olive could get valuable experience. Then youth HC Marc White recalls his favourite Tom Moore play;
“It was at Sussex, we were playing the Thunder and dominating them on the scoreboard and physically on the field. They had a kid playing Linebacker, very tall, but very skinny too - you could tell he had a high centre of gravity and his stance was all wrong. We had a running play where the play-side receiver would leave his corner back completely alone and just tee-off on that Linebacker position to seal the edge for the runner. When I called the play to that side, I saw that Tom was lined up at the receiver position and this tall skinny kid was inside… the Sussex player never even saw 82 coming - Tom just destroyed him. Guy got up and his helmet was on sideways - I know that’s a real football cliché, but this dude’s helmet was - literally - on sideways. I can’t remember the result of the play. I was too busy watching Tom - I could see what was going to happen. I nearly felt bad about calling that play. Nearly.”
Tom was also in his second year at junior level in 2016, and had also begun to make an impact on that team, translating the Green/Moore partnership from the U17 to the U19 stage. He never reached the end zone for the U19 team in 2016 though, but the valuable experience was about to pay off.
In 2017, with only the junior game to focus on, Moore had a truly breakout year. In the opening game against the defending national Champions, the Kent Exiles, Moore exploded with 9 receptions for 132 yards and a score. The rest of the season when in a similar manner, further scores followed against Farnham and Black Country and Moore totalled 29 grabs for 524 yards by seasons end - a season that saw him as part of the Southern Trophy winning team and also earned him a place on the Double Coverage All-U19 team of the season.
Looking back at that season, Tom chooses the close defeat to the blitz as his favourite game in his time at the academy. “Even though we lost, we pushed them all the way” he laments. The fact that he has had several games where he had better statistics goes a long way to reveal the content of his team-first character. How many receivers (not with the surname of Verling) can you name that would prioritise their contribution to the run game and physicality over touchdown receptions?
In 2017, after the breakout season and the DC honours, Tom began his UniBall career at Loughborough, once again playing at receiver. During the season, he played against some familiar faces as the Aces played Filton Pride - with Tom lining up across the ball from Toby Naylor and James Green for the first time in ‘live’ conditions. Tom returned to the Seahawks for his final season in 2018, and began where he left off in 2017, as the Seahawks offense piled up 92 points in their first two games. As the season wore on, and competition got tougher, output dipped, but Tom was always found to be a tough competitor and fierce blocker. Moore will return to Loughborough for his second season of BUCS football, and it remains to be seen where he takes his talent and lust for contact next summer.
It’s only 29 miles that separate Loughborough from Tamworth. We don’t want to push our graduating players into any decisions about where they play football in 2019 and onwards, but imagine for one minute playing Outside Linebacker or Defensive Back against a Phoenix team with Tom Moore on one side of the field and JV on the other…
Wherever it is, we’ll be keeping an eye out for number 82, his incredible catches and those crushing blocks.