No one was more surprised than Charmeachealle Moore.
When news reached the junior Kansas State linebacker that he made17 tackles in the final game of the regular season against West Virginia – a crucial 24-23 victory that sent the Wildcats to the Liberty Bowl — he flashed an astonished grin and searched for confirmation.
Did I really? Yes? Wow.
“What a blessing,” he said, admitting he was in too much of a zone to think about stats. “It was a blast. When you see the play, you get excited and you want to run to the ball. It’s like a kid in a candy store. You get a free prize.”
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Nearly a month has passed since Moore played the game of his life, which featured a career-high four tackles for loss, but he still reflects on the performance as he prepares for Arkansas.
“It boosted my confidence a lot,” Moore said. “I was just out there playing. To know I was capable of doing something like that, I am ready to do that every game and to just give it my all. That is what I plan to do.”
The Wildcats certainly hope Moore can channel the way he played against West Virginia in Memphis and beyond to next season. A Dallas native, Moore has flashed signs of brilliance throughout his K-State career, earning playing time as a freshman making plays as a standup pass-rusher the following year. If not for an injury derailing the majority of his junior season, forcing him to redshirt, and the death of his father slowing him this season, some believe he would already be a consistent defensive force.
He also made six tackles against Kansas and 10 tackles against Iowa State, taking over for Will Davis in the middle of K-State’s defense in three consecutive victories. Think what he could do a senior.
“I was blessed to be able to perform like that,” Moore said. “But it wasn’t just me. Everybody around me was doing their job. I was just the guy making the plays, making the tackles. It really wasn’t about me. On our defense, we are all hard-nosed and ready to get after it.”
Even if his game regresses, K-State coach Bill Snyder will be happy with Moore as long as he sees him having fun.
There were times this season that Moore was unable to carry energy or passion with him onto the field. Fighting back from injury was hard enough. Add on the death of his father, from a heart attack, three games into the season, and he couldn’t bring himself to show up for practice.
“I admire him so much for fighting through it all,” Snyder said, “and learning again to enjoy the game he loves so much.”
It wasn’t easy. Moore was named after his father, and they used to talk all the time. Without him, Moore seriously thought about quitting football.
“Me and my dad were real close. I still am coming to terms with him being gone,” Moore said, fighting back tears. “It’s tough, but I think about, would he want me to quit? Would he want to falter? No, he would want me to keep on going.”
I admire him so much for fighting through it all, and learning again to enjoy the game he loves so much.
K-State coach Bill Snyder on Charmeachealle Moore’s resurgence this season
Moore credits his family and support system at K-State for helping him stay involved. He didn’t record a statistic in games against Texas-San Antonio, Louisiana Tech and TCU, and he didn’t play against Oklahoma State. He made 12 tackles in K-State’s first nine games, and there was little reason to expect a drastic rise in production.
But when teammates urged him to keep up working, telling him they looked to him as a leader, he found the strength to regain his form.
“It has been challenging,” Moore said. “It has been real hard, but I have great teammates. My coaches have been great. My wife and my mother and everybody has been behind me.”
The football field is once again his favorite place, and a perfect location to honor his late father.
“It’s just a release when I get out there,” Moore said. “I get on the field and that is my escape. I know he loved to see me play. Now he is watching me from above and I am just trying to make him proud.”
Kellis Robinett: @kellisrobinett