Skai Moore's rise was immediate last season, and his arrow continued to point up.
In his first career game, the freshman linebacker finished with seven tackles in South Carolina's win against North Carolina. It would stand throughout the fall as a career high, but barely. Five times, Moore finished with six tackles in a game.
When the dust settled, Moore was South Carolina's leading tackler as a freshman. On a defense that didn't lack NFL talent, it was an impressive accomplishment.
But it was more than Moore's 56 tackles that earned him Freshman All-American honors. The linebacker also led South Carolina with four interceptions, proving to be a playmaker. Moore is the rare linebacker who can equally defend the run and pass. He does everything well, though everything could also be done better.
This season, Moore could develop into the best player on South Carolina's defense. He should have plenty of help, both at linebacker and other positions on the defense. But if the Gamecocks defense continues playing at a high level following Jadeveon Clowney's departure, Moore must have a solid - if not great - second season.
There's significant room for Moore to improve. Even if the numbers didn't show it, he faced a steep learning curve last fall - just like any freshman. Moore said he didn't feel completely comfortable within South Carolina's defensive scheme until the Gamecocks hosted Mississippi State. That was in November, the ninth game of the season.
The thought should give opposing offenses pause. If Moore is already leading South Carolina in tackles and interceptions, imagine what could be next.
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