After missing the 2016 season with a torn pectoral, Rebel defensive back C.J. Moore started against South Alabama Saturday. The junior was redshirted last year after a season-ending injury sustained in practice. But Saturday’s game meant more than a return from injury – it meant lining up next to his twin brother, A.J.
“We have great chemistry together out there,” A.J. Moore said. “Ever since high school, that was the dream, and now it’s a dream come true.”
The pair, natives of Bassfield, committed to Ole Miss in 2014. Both consensus three-star recruits and both defensive backs, the two had plenty in common. But the Moore brothers’ collegiate careers followed vastly different paths.
After playing limited roles on special teams as freshmen, the pair began to diverge as sophomores. A.J. started twice in 2015, earning further minutes as a backup safety. By season’s end, A.J. had accumulated 26 tackles and recovered two fumbles, the third most in the SEC. C.J. was still stuck on special teams.
Heading into 2016, C.J. had hoped for an increased role with the team. But tragedy struck first. A torn pectoral relegated the defensive back to the sideline. Through it all, C.J. remained optimistic.
“It was tough. I was looking forward to playing, and I was down a little bit, but then I realized I had to cheer those guys on,” C.J. said. “So that was my role, just cheering them on and watching them play throughout the season.”
A.J. had a breakout year in 2016, finishing sixth on the team with 42 tackles and fourth on the team with five tackles for loss on the season. All the while, C.J. watched from his support role on the bench.
“Last year, they were all coming to the game just to watch me,” A.J. said, referencing his family. “It’s really fun to have my twin brother out there on the field with me.”
After a long, healthy offseason, the Moore brothers are back and better than ever. The pair started together Saturday evening in front of more than 62,000 Ole Miss fans. C.J. made the most of his opportunity, finishing with eight total tackles, six of them unassisted. No one else on the Rebel defense even came close.
“We both try to compete and see who can make the most plays,” C.J. said. “It’s a pretty nice deal.”
A.J. was no slouch on Saturday, either, earning a sack and tackle for loss before the day was over. All in all, not a bad showing for the Moore family.
“It means a lot. I’ve dreamed about it, just getting out on the field since I signed here. Just getting out there is a dream come true,” C.J. said.
The Moore brothers, along with the rest of the Ole Miss Rebels, now look forward to a Saturday afternoon matchup with the University of Tennessee at Martin.