James Tyrone (J.T.) Moore of Youngstown Boardman won’t have a hard time finding a ride to Columbus for college. His sister Darryce can give him a lift. J.T. is headed to Ohio State for football, while Darryce is headed there as well on a basketball ride.
EDITOR’S NOTE — This article is reprinted from the January 2010 edition of Bucknuts The Magazine.
The annual transition from football to basketball, albeit a difficult one admittedly, went smoothly as it usually does for James Tyrone Moore. It should be the last time, however, that the two-sport prep star should have to go through it.
Better known as J.T., Moore and his Boardman Spartans finished the recently completed gridiron campaign in week 11 after taking one on the chin, 17-0, to defending Division I state champion Cleveland St. Ignatius. It was the second time in Moore’s three seasons as a starter at Boardman that the Spartans made the postseason playoffs. The loss dropped their record to 7-4 for the season.
“The transition over from (football to basketball) was pretty intense. I had almost about a week (off), maybe a little less than that,” Moore said. “But the transition from over there, because I’m still around 230 pounds running up and down the court, was tough. It’s a lot different (conditioning-wise) going from sport to sport but other than that it’s perfectly fine.”
And it is a lot different this year for Moore because he is a little heavier than what he was a year ago. But he’s yet to take his foot off the gas pedal.
“It’s going okay so far, just getting back into the flow of things, especially from carrying this weight, because last year I was about 15 pounds lighter. So it is a lot different,” Moore said. “But we have a good team and all of the guys have been contributing so we’re doing pretty good.”
A solid double-double, frontcourt contributor for Boardman who can throw his weight around pretty well around the basket, Moore, who once fancied himself as a future hoop player, never really thought that Ohio State would be the school he would end up at.
“As a kid you always dream about playing there and I always wanted to push my goals toward being there. But I was always for basketball and then one day, going into my sophomore year, my coach (head football coach D.J. Ogilvie) told me my ticket was football if I worked hard,” Moore said. “So after my sophomore year, he said I did really good and in my junior year he expects a lot of me and it’s come from that. But I really didn’t expect anything from it. So just to play D-I football, especially in the Big Ten for Ohio State, is a blessing. It’s an honor really.”
Ohio State must have also thought that Moore did “really good” after his sophomore year as he was obviously on their radar that ensuing winter already, before he was officially offered a scholarship in September 2008.
“That was last year (when I was offered) but truthfully I didn’t know that I was one of the guys that they wanted to take,” Moore said. “My sister (Darryce Moore) told me that (Jim) Tressel, when they went down there to states (girls basketball – winter ‘08), that he wanted her to go there so I would come there. So I had a general thought about it but I wasn’t sure if they were going to offer me or anything.
“I was just coming off of my sophomore year and was just trying to do a lot for my junior year and things just happily came out of nowhere. And then, the next thing you know, I verbaled. I gave a verbal commit to them and I was pretty excited.”
Moore unofficially became the second Spartan in consecutive years to verbally commit to Ohio State. Corey Linsely, currently an offensive line prospect Ohio State, officially became a Buckeye when he inked his letter of intent in February 2009.
“Corey really helped me out a lot, especially just knowing that he was going to be there while I’m down there,” Moore said. “And then finding out that John Simon (Cardinal Mooney) was going to be down there also, having a couple of Youngstown guys who I can look up to when I get there and also help me and guide me while I’m down there, was great. But just being a teammate with Corey for another, possibly three or four years, there was just a good feeling about that.”
But when Jim Tressel came to the school to presumably check on things with Linsley in the winter of ’08 before he committed in April of that year, Moore didn’t even really know he was on the radar then.
“Truthfully I had no idea,” Moore said. “I know he wanted to see me and Coach O and when I met him he said he wanted to keep looking forward to hearing (good things) about me and what not. But I wasn’t sure at all if I was on his radar or anything.”
And finally on Sept. 5, 2008, it happened for Moore. Any speculation he might have had about getting an offer or not, prior to that, was a moot issue now.
“I remember at the Chaney game last year, my mom came up to me after we had a big win and said, ‘The letter came (in the mail),’ ” Moore said. “I was telling everybody about it and my coaches had already knew it was going to happen. They came up to me and were excited and then they told the whole team and things started moving real quick.
“And Corey was like, ‘You’ve got to go there.’ Me and Corey talked for a couple of hours about it and then we talked almost every day about it. And before you knew it, me and Coach O were talking about it and we just made the call and made it official.”
Just six days after receiving the written offer in the mail, Moore, who never even was given a verbal offer by the OSU staff, became the first recruit for Ohio State’s class of 2010 on Sept. 11.
“Yeah there was some pressure on me being the first guy to commit,” he said. “But it’s an honor and I knew I had to bring what I had to the table and so that’s what I did.”
The Spartans, with both Linsley and Moore playing integral two-way roles on the team that year, started that season off 5-0 but then went on to lose their last five games to finish at 5-5, missing out on making the playoffs again. So Moore wanted to make sure the same thing didn’t happen to his senior class the following year. And indeed he played like an Ohio State recruit during the ’09 season.
“I felt that I did pretty good contributing to my team where they needed me the most, especially on defense,” Moore said. “I’m proud of our defense and I’m especially proud of the way I was able to play this year and not have any injuries. It was great helping my team by going both ways and also playing different positions on defense, not just playing defensive end but also playing linebacker.”
At 6-3 ½ and 230 pounds that’s precisely the area where Moore has the most upside potential in him, when he not only plays just one sport at the college level, but plays just one position as well.
“I think that’s definitely one way I can become much better than I am now,” Moore said. “By focusing on just one sport and one specific position instead of playing two sports and playing multiple positions and going both ways, and being so tired, physically and mentally, it should be pretty easy for me to transfer over to being a better football player overall.”
And so, at least for this off-season, it looks like Moore will get to prepare, in his first crack at it as a Buckeye, to play the Leo position on Ohio State’s defense.
“I was told I will probably be playing the Leo which is smaller than a defensive end but bigger than a linebacker,” Moore said. “It’s still sort of like a D-end but it’s some sort of a linebacker as well so I’m pretty excited about that.”
His relentless motor should work rather well at that position with the Buckeyes.
“I think I pursue to the ball pretty well because you never know what can happen. And I think I do that very well,” Moore said. “And chasing down ball carriers is something I do very well, too.”
But Moore, who was a first-team selection as a defensive lineman on the 2009 All-Ohio defense team by Ohio High, certainly understands that he’s not yet a finished product on the gridiron by any means.
“I need to be more explosive and get faster,” Moore said. “And eventually I want to get stronger and bigger but I also want to compete harder and be aggressive and be smart and execute the plays they have for me.”
Although he still works hard in the weight room, something you’re required to do under Ogilvie at Boardman, his lifting routine changes up a bit during basketball season.
“I still lift but the only thing I don’t do really is my legs because you can’t for basketball,” Moore said. “But other than that I’m still working on the basics like chest, back and arms and I’m still (power) cleaning. So I’m still lifting but when basketball is over it should be a lot easier because I’ll be able to focus on one thing, lifting, while I’m getting ready college.”
His work ethic when it comes to the weight room, whether he’s playing football or basketball, can’t be questioned.
“These past three years I’ve really worked my butt off in the weight room and I’ve tried to put on as much weight and get as strong as I possibly could,” Moore said. “But just in general I know that I can get a lot stronger and faster and I’ll keep improving on that and things will keep getting better for me.”
His future level of success on the football field at Ohio State, because of his overall determination, seems to be unlimited. Moore played practically every down on both sides of the ball all season long.
“I’m just expecting to be the best that I can be and I’m pretty excited about it overall,” said Moore who will make his official visit to Ohio State Jan. 9-10. “I’m just happy to be going there and whatever I got to do or whatever it takes for me to push myself, I’ll do it.”
And having a member of his family at Ohio State with him to help Moore get through the hard times is certainly a bonus. His sister Darryce, nine and a half months younger than J.T., will be on a basketball scholarship at OSU in the fall as well.
“I’m pretty excited about that, just being with her and getting to see her play, it just gives me another chance to see her playing for the next four years and see what she can do,” said J.T. Moore who will turn 19 on Aug. 26. “So I’m pretty excited to still be at the same school with her.”
It’s safe to say, however, that there just might be a little bit of sibling rivalry between the two as far as basketball is concerned. Darryce, who will turn 18 on June 7, helped lead the Lady Spartans to the state semifinals during the ’08 season.
“I get on her a little bit and tell her what she’s doing wrong or what she needs to do to improve,” J.T. Moore said. “But she’s a student of the game and she really knows a lot about the sport. So there’s not really much that I can teach her any more. But whenever she needs help I will help her out.”
Darryce started the season off with a bum ankle, an “inversion sprain” along wit a bone bruise in the middle of her foot, that she sustained in a scrimmage but both herself and her team were doing pretty well during the early part of the campaign. An overtime victory over Canton McKinley, where Moore poured in 18 points in a 54-49 OT victory over their Federal League rivalry helped the Lady Spartans get off to a 4-1 start.
“The beginning of the year has been kind of tough because I sprained my ankle but I’m getting back into it gradually and it’s getting better and better each day,” Darryce Moore said. “As far as my expectations are concerned for this year, I just want to get in better shape and learn more about the game. And for my team I just want us to put it all together and have fun.”
Due to the early signing period in basketball, Darryce has already put her signature on a letter-of-intent to attend Ohio State. Something J.T. will do on Feb. 3.
“I was pretty excited when I signed my letter of intent,” Darryce Moore said. “It feels great that I’m an official Buckeye and me and my brother get to be together in college and stuff. It’s all good.”
Although Darryce has been playing for the varsity since her freshman year at Boardman, she too, like her brother, never really imagined things playing out the way that they have for her.
“A few years ago I never even imagined us going to Ohio State. It’s just a blessing,” said Darryce Moore who has been practicing with longtime coach Ron Moschella and the varsity team at Boardman since the seventh grade. “Basketball is like my life. I didn’t know I was getting a scholarship like that early, but I figured I’d get a scholarship somewhere.”
But her game pretty much speaks for itself on the hardwood. That’s sort of what the OSU staff under Jim Foster thinks about Moore.
“They basically said that they know that I’m aggressive and I’m a good big man and I just play hard and I have a lot of heart for the game,” said Darryce, who has played on the same AAU team in the past with another 2010 OSU basketball recruit from Salem, Amy Scullion. “I have a good outside game, it’s just that I have a better inside game.”
And if she helps lead her team to another state tournament appearance then that’s great. But if things don’t quite work out that way, she’s just grateful for the opportunity ahead for herself and her brother after graduation.
“People ask me all of the time how it feels with your brother going to the same college with you,” Darryce Moore said. “But it just feels normal because we’ve been going to the same school forever and we’re like best friends. We’re really close. We’re just so excited that we can both go to the same college together.”
To say that she’s proud of their unique accomplishment together just may be an understatement.
“I feel really blessed that me and J.T. both get to go to the same college together and it’s not a big hassle for my mom or anything like that,” Darryce Moore said. “And the fact that it’s Ohio State makes it way better. Ohio State is as good as you can get. And it’s not far at all.”
And the fact that she couldn’t be any more proud of her older brother is a major understatement.
“He plays really hard and he knows what to do on the field,” she said. “I’m his number one fan. People look at me when I’m screaming at him and they think I’m crazy it’s awesome. I can’t wait to watch him play for the Buckeyes. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
It’s definitely an exciting time in the Moore household.
“The most exciting thing right now is when people know that you’re going to Ohio State,” J.T. Moore said. “That’s the most exciting thing for a kid. And especially when they say it must be an honor for your sister going there too. So it is pretty exciting. It’s just a great feeling to know that you’re going to be a Buckeye. It’s really an honor for both of us.”