FLINT, Mich. — Michigan expects to have another piece back on defense when fall camp kicks off in a couple of weeks.
Defensive back Rod Moore, who emerged as a starter last year in his true-freshman season, has been cleared to practice after having surgery on a torn labrum back in January.
Rehab from the shoulder injury took months, forcing the 6-foot, 173-pound safety to sit out the spring session.
“It’s all 100 percent,” Moore told MLive on Thursday during the team’s statewide tour stop in Flint. “I’m good now.”
Moore called missing the Wolverines’ 15 spring practices “a bump in the road,” but maintained that he stayed active mentally, got into the weight room to improve his leg strength, and “added a couple of pounds.”
“I probably (tore) it the middle of the season, but I just kept playing through it,” Moore said.
The Clayton, Ohio, native appeared in 11 games during the 2021 season, first as a reserve safety and then a starter. Moore earned his first collegiate start in the win at Penn State, recording six tackles, and followed it up with five tackles in a win over Maryland.
Michigan made an effort to involve underclassmen defensive backs last fall, incorporating Moore and RJ Moten into the starting rotation, a visionary move to help prepare for the future. Moore finished the season with 32 tackles and a pass breakup.
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“It was unbelievable; a shocking experience,” Moore said of playing as a true freshman. “You’re coming from a high school team going to play in the Big Ten championship. That’s just a blessing.”
Moore called it an “eye opener” in camp last fall, trying to manage school and football, but says he eventually figured it out. The speed of the game was never much of an issue for him, evident by his quick ascension.
But the real highlight of the year, he says, was Michigan’s 42-27 victory over Ohio State to close out the regular season. Moore said he grew up surrounded by fans of the Buckeyes, many of whom told him they’d cheer for him and Michigan … ‘except for that one game.’
“We take that very seriously; Ohio State especially,” Moore said. “We have the, ‘What are you doing today to beat Ohio State?’ (sign) in the weight room. We live by that day by day.
“It was crazy, especially when everybody rushed the field. I’ve never been a part of that myself. You see that on TV and you’re like, ‘Wow, that’s crazy.’ Being a part of that, you just stand there in astonishment.”
As for now, Moore admits he has some catching up to do. Michigan introduced a new defensive coordinator, Jesse Minter, in the winter, and while the scheme isn’t a total tear down from what Mike Macdonald was running, there are some differences. Plus, Moore lost valuable practice in the spring, perhaps most notably to senior Mike Sainristil, who spent extended time on defense as a nickel defensive back.
Last month, Jim Harbaugh said Moore would be challenged by Sainristil in fall camp.
“Other people took my spot,” Moore said. “While I don’t expect to start, I expect to go out there and take the starting spot again. I’ve got a little catching up to do, because the playbook might have changed a little bit.
“I’ve got to get back into that, but I’ll be fine.”
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