Dre Moore is one of those unusual tales of pure talent and hard work combining to send someone to the top tier of the sport.
The Bucs fourth-round draft pick from the University of Maryland didn't even start playing football until his junior year of high school. A coach asked the basketball player to try out. After a year on the JV team, Moore made it to the varsity level his senior year. "I went to Maryland and struggled a little bit early on, trying to keep up with learning the game and trying to play well at a Division I level," Moore said. "Toward my later years, my junior and senior years, I think I was very successful, and I had pretty good campaigns each year, so I think I just got better with time."
Rookie minicamp was faster than Moore was used to, but he's not worried about adjusting to the pro level, although he did admit to little sleep before the first day thanks to nerves.
"Once I get down here and get with the veterans and see how it's done by pros and those that have done it for a few years, get a few tips, I think I'll be fine," he said. "I think I will excel in this program because coach (Jon) Gruden and coach (Monte) Kiffin are really pushing me. I'm loving it out there."
Moore continued his learning process last week during the Bucs' recent slate of organized team activities, which included a practice at Raymond James Stadium on Thursday.
He tried not to upset the tempo of practice, he said, and to show a familiarity with the Bucs' system.
"You have to show that you understand the playbook, that you're hungry and you can understand football at this level," Moore said.
The hardest part of minicamp and the OTAs was learning all of the new techniques, new responsibilities and understanding player keys.
"It's like starting over from scratch," he said. "The playbook is going to be the hardest thing."
At Maryland, Moore had a reputation for dropping back in coverage. But that was really a matter of his role at defensive tackle, he said.
"I spent a lot of time dropping into coverage, so I had interceptions and batted down passes. A lot of times I was used in different ways. For example, our two [defensive] tackles we were used a lot in spy techniques to offset the option attack from a lot of the teams we saw in the ACC," he said. I think a lot of times people say that they don't really understand the play that was being called, what I was actually doing on that play."
Like all rookies, Moore wants to prove himself on the field and show the Tampa Bay coaching staff they made a good choice.
"I was a little surprised, but I am glad I ended up in Tampa Bay with Coach Kiffin and Coach Gruden," Moore said. "By the end of my rookie year, 31 teams will be shaking their head."