When looking for a new tight ends coach, head coach Charlie Strong didn’t have to look further than his own building. Strong hired Sherrone Moore, a graduate assistant on the offensive side of the football for the last three seasons.
Moore was hired by former head coach Steve Kragthorpe and was afforded the opportunity to remain as a graduate assistant when Strong took over after the 2009 season. Moore received a big opportunity to audition for a full-time job when he took over the tight ends after Mike Sanford and Strong mutually agreed to part ways in October.
“When Coach Sanford left the staff, I started working more closely with the tight ends,” said Moore. “I worked with them for the second half of the season along with coach (Dave) Borbely, coaching the offensive line. And then after the season ended, we talked about it and I knew it was a possibility. Once we got through Signing Day and just before coach (Charlie) Strong gave the staff a few days off, he called me in and we talked about the position and he let me know the good news.”
Moore’s reaction wasn’t a surprise for a young coach, who was elevated from a graduate assistant’s salary to full-time status.
“Oh, I was excited,” Moore said. “This has been something I’ve been working toward, so when he let me know I’d be coaching the tight ends, it was exciting,” said Moore. “I called my mother first and shared the good news, and I spoke to my Dad, who is in Quatar currently. He was really excited for me. This is a great opportunity.”
Moore played two seasons at Oklahoma, working as a back-up guard in 2006 before earning a larger role the following season. He helped the Sooners to a pair of BCS bowls.
Prior to joining the powerful Sooner program, Moore was two-year starter at Butler County Community College, where he helped the school to two conference titles and a 20-3 record in two seasons. He was a second team All-Conference selection. However, injuries slowed his career down, and Moore knew if he wanted to remain in football, he would have to travel a different path.
“When I was in my senior year at Oklahoma, I knew that my health wouldn’t allow the NFL to be my next step,” said Moore. “I had been interested in coaching and started to look into it. I got the opportunity to work as a graduate assistant and learn more about coaching and what it takes.”
Moore’s promotion would be a daunting task for some graduate assistant coaches, but not for Moore, who, as a graduate assistant, had a huge impact in the offense for each game. He was counted on by the staff to assist in scouting the opposition and was a large part in the team’s success.
“I don’t feel like the jump will be too big of a transition for me because, on Coach Strong’s coaching staff, the graduate assistants have a lot of responsibilities, just like a coach,” Moore stated. “Now, I would still have to do all the normal GA activities and that kind of thing, but Coach Borbely trusted me to coach the line and help him during practices. There were times when he would take half and I’d take half for drills and we’d work them that way. I’m grateful I got that opportunity to work as much as I did because it prepared me to be a coach.
One of Moore’s biggest attributes is his knowledge of the game, but also bringing a youthfulness to the staff that can be an asset to a veteran staff.
“I think the thing I bring is energy,” Moore said. “I love football and I want to bring that energy and that passion to coaching. I’m really looking forward to the recruiting side of it. You got just a taste of what it’s like when you are working as a graduate assistant, but I’m looking forward to be able to go out and recruit players.”
Moore’s biggest challenge will be to get an inexperienced group of players to perform at the tight end position. Josh Chichester has graduated, and the Cardinals are very inexperienced with just Nate Nord and Chris White returning. The addition of junior-college transfer Ryan Hubbell will help, but the Cardinals aren’t very deep at that position. Gerald Christian transferred from Florida, but will be unable to contribute due to NCAA transfer rules, forcing him to sit out for the upcoming season.
“We have some guys there, but we need some guys to step up, too,” Moore said. “White is a former walk-on that has really come along and Nate Nord, everybody saw what he is able to do when he made that catch in the bowl game. That was a big play, but we need him to do more of that. We definitely need to develop more consistency. And then the guys we have coming in – we have Gerald Christian and Ryan Hubbell here now on campus. Both of those guys are big and physical and have what you look for. Gerald has to sit out a year after transferring from Florida, and then we have a couple of freshmen coming in.”