University School students Skai Moore and Jordan Cunningham took different paths to making their college decisions. In the end, they both wanted to play in the Southeastern Conference.
Moore, a four-star linebacker who finally picked up an offer from his dream school, Miami, on Tuesday night, picked South Carolina while Cunningham committed to Vanderbilt.
Moore found out about the Hurricanes’ offer from his defensive coordinator on Wednesday morning, but for him, it was too late.
“I feel like it was a little too late in the process,” Moore said. “Honestly, if they would’ve came in two or three weeks ago, this might of been a whole different day for me.”
Moore, who was verbally committed to Rutgers, decommitted in January at the sound of SEC schools coming his way after his 16-tackle performance in the Class 3A title game against Madison County High. Now, he’ll be joining a Gamecocks defense that ranked in the top 20 in rushing, scoring and total defense in the country spearheaded by unanimous All-American Jadeveon Clowney.
“The [Outback Bowl] game really intrigued me,” Moore said. “Just watching how the defense got after it and how tenacious they were, and that’s something I want to be a part of — a defense with some dogs on it.”
Moore, who also fielded offers from 31 other schools — including Vanderbilt, FIU, Louisville, Ohio State, Texas A&M and Wisconsin — said being able to play on the big stage and being on a high-profile team were opportunities he could not pass up.
“My opportunity to go in there pretty early and play is a great one so if I do what I gotta do, I could be starting from day one,” Moore said. “I’m really excited to get up there.
Cunningham, a four-star wide receiver, passed up offers from Miami, Florida State and Stanford to commit to Vanderbilt.
While announcing on ESPNU, Cunningham said playing for the Commodores was a part of his 50-year career plan which includes an engineering degree after his NFL career.
“The SEC is a big-time conference,” Cunningham said. “In my opinion, it’s one of the best conferences in college football so I definitely want to go in there and make an impact early.”
Cunningham will join an already solid SEC wide receiver tandem of Jordan Matthews and Clark Boyd, whom he’s built relationships with since his visit to in Nashville, Tenn.
Despite not being able to play with Aaron Rodgers’ younger brother, also named Jordan, Cunningham is looking forward to winning a SEC championship with coach James Franklin, who has caught some heat after reffering to Alabama coach Nick Saban as Nicky Satan.
“It was a little joke,” Cunningham said. “But at the same time, it was a challenge. He still wants to be on top and he’s gonna work hard for that.”