At the end of each of the past three football seasons, departing Kansas State players had a special request for Colby Moore.
Call me when the coaching staff puts you on scholarship.
That’s how much confidence teammates had in Moore after they watched the walk-on defensive back from Argyle, Texas make key tackles and blocks on special teams in seemingly every game. For them, it wasn’t a question of if Moore would earn a promotion. It was a question of when.
Moore proved them right last January when K-State special teams coordinator Sean Snyder called to say he had earned a scholarship for his senior year. It was a moment he will never forget. Moore was helping his father work on his dirt racing car when the phone rang. A wild celebration followed. So did a boatload of phone calls.
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“I was speechless at first,” Moore said. “But I was probably on my phone the rest of the day. So many of my former teammates wanted to know about it.”
Moore joins a long list of walk-on success stories at K-State. Like the many who came before him, he has a fascinating story to tell about how he ended up in Manhattan.
It starts during his senior of high school. Moore was a talented quarterback back then, good enough to earn a football scholarship from Army. The Black Knights liked his arm, build and speed. They thought he could help them run the triple option.
Moore was flattered by the offer. Still is, actually. But he wanted more. So he traveled across the country with his father attending college camps, trying to impress any coach he could. And he did exactly that at a K-State camp in Derby.
He only stopped there because it was on the way to another camp in Colorado, but he made the most of his stop. With Snyder and former defensive coordinator Tom Hayes looking on, Moore ran a blazing time at the 40-yard dash.
“I was probably only a 4.5 guy, but their fast fingers helped me get down to a 4.3,” Moore said. “Coach Sean looked at that and said, ‘Man, you could be a really good special teams guy.’”
Both sides kept in touch. Moore hoped for a scholarship. The Wildcats only liked him as a walk-on. Moore faced a difficult choice, but he eventually sided with K-State.
“I decided I wanted to play big-time college football,” Moore said. “That was being in the Big 12, where each stadium is always packed and the crowds are always crazy. I thought Kansas State is the fastest way on the field. To know I can go in there and get one of the 11 special teams spots across four different units as opposed to one quarterback spot at Army … I said, ‘I am going to go there and give it all I’ve got.’ That is what worked for me.”
Indeed, Moore has matured into one of K-State’s best players on special teams. He has played in 35 games, making 21 tackles and a handful of other contributions. His biggest highlight came last season against Oklahoma, when the Sooners botched the snap on a punt. The ball popped loose and a mad scramble for the fumble recovery ensued. Then Moore emerged with the ball in the red zone.
“I was able to give it to the offense and Alex Delton scored a touchdown immediately,” Moore said. “That was a great moment. The crowd went absolutely crazy.”
Moore could see an increased role as a senior. He is a scholarship player now, after all.
K-State coach Bill Snyder thought enough of him to bring him to Big 12 media days along with Dalton Risner, Skylar Thompson and Delton. He remains unlikely to see significant time with the secondary, but he seems like the new leader on special teams. And his leadership skills could be tested this year with the unit experiencing significant turnover.
“Spots are open, but there will still be 11 guys on the field helping our new kickers and returners,” Moore said. “We will have their backs. I would say my responsibility is about the same. Taking charge on special teams has always been my role. That is who I am and what I do.”
It’s not hard to imagine him playing quarterback at Army. But he thinks he found his calling at K-State.
“I would have been a lot more bruised up running the triple option, getting hit every play,” Moore said with a laugh. “So, looking back now, it may have worked out for the best. I can say 100 percent that I am thankful I came to K-State.”