Moore had grabbed plenty of quarterbacks in his lifetime. This time, he was grabbing an opportunity.
“When you get called on,” he said, “you just go get it.”
The love bug caught Karen and Boris in college. They met during their first semester as freshmen.
“August of 1982,” Boris said.
She went to Spellman. He went to Morehouse. She pledged Alpha Kappa Alpha. He pledged Omega Psi Phi.
They tied the knot in 1988 and started a family not long after. First a daughter, Vanessa, then a son, Malachi.
As young parents, they made sure to keep their kids busy. That meant weekends were always full. Indoor soccer, tee ball, baseball, basketball, football.
The genes were there. Boris, at 6 feet 2 inches, played football for Morehouse. His father, Sherman Moore, was 6-6. Karen was 6-1, a basketball player in high school. Her father, Willie Campbell, was 6-7, drafted by the Seattle SuperSonics in 1967 and had a short stint in the NBA before going on to play for the Harlem Globetrotters.
“We just got the genes,” Boris said.
Vanessa took after her mother. She sprouted to 6-2 and is about to start her senior season as a center on Georgetown’s basketball team. Malachi followed his father’s footsteps.
“Football would always seem to be his sport,” Boris said. “He always looked so natural on the field.”
When Malachi was invited to a three-day camp at Boston College in the summer of 2011, Karen was his buddy on the road.
The campus, she thought, was gorgeous. The academics couldn’t have been more impressive. The environment was one in which she could see her son.
“She fell in love with the campus like I did,” Malachi said.
BC made him an offer at the end of the camp. He made his official visit in December.
“You go someplace and you just know this is where you belong, where your son belongs, that’s the feeling we got,” Boris said.
Call to action
Spaziani saw early on that Moore would be a player. He had the physical presence (6-6, 240 pounds). He had the track record (60 tackles, 14 sacks, and five forced fumbles his senior year at Pope John XXIII High School in New Jersey). But Spaziani wanted to protect Moore’s potential.
They had a conversation about redshirting Moore. It wasn’t easy for either of them.
“It wasn’t clear-cut,” Spaziani said. “We thought we could get something out of him.”
The decision made sense. They both knew it.
Moore was big, but not ACC big. He didn’t even start lifting weights until the spring of 2011. He didn’t start playing defensive end until his senior year at Pope John. His experience at the position amounted to a grand total of nine games.
But for Moore, it was his first time sitting out. A father talking to a frustrated son, Boris just tried to take the sting off. Boris told him to take the year, grind it out on the scout team, get beaten up by veteran maulers like Eagles captain Emmett Cleary, and learn from it.
“It was about him getting stronger,” Boris said. “He was going to be a beast come next year. I was trying to say all the right things.”
Malachi lifted weights. He took protein every day. He worked hard on the scout team.
“Up until Florida State, that was the plan,” he said.
The injuries that decimated the Eagles’ depth chart before the season even started forced Spaziani to play nine freshmen during the Eagles’ 1-5 start. Spaziani wanted many of his freshmen to sit out a year and develop.
“Things never go as planned in life in general,” Malachi said.
With his defensive line depleted, Spaziani had to crack the glass case and burn Moore’s redshirt eligibility.
“It was a no-brainer,” Spaziani said. “It was just like, ‘Let’s go.’ Necessity is the root of innovation, or something like that.”
The defense has leaned on the freshmen more than anticipated. The Eagles have paid for their lack of experience. But those players have willingly walked on coals.
“Those guys usually bring exactly what you expect — youth and enthusiasm and excitement,” Spaziani said. “They’re happy to get going and get playing.”
Strong support system
Boris’s phone blew up. Co-workers. Friends. People from Pope John. They were all watching. They all saw Malachi make his mark as a college football player.
When he finally talked to his son, they were emotional.
“It was just a lot of memories about her and him and all the work he put it,” Boris said.
He told Malachi, “If you ever doubt yourself, just look back to that sack. You can play with these kids.”
When his mother died, Malachi didn’t want to wallow. He wanted to get back on campus.
“He wanted to be in this support system and he wanted to be with his teammates,” Spaziani said. “It’s obviously a personal decision, but that says a lot to our players and the coaches and certainly the BC community. Our players respected that.”Continued...