For one reason or another, talented players are casually glossed over every season. Some fail to live up to preconceived size requirements, while others generate little fanfare as a result of playing for underwhelming programs. Vanderbilt LB Dimitri Moore is a product of the latter.

While Moore garnered national recognition as an ascending talent following a stellar redshirt freshman campaign, his 2019 production was conceivably superior. As the Commodores continued their downward spiral last season, Moore’s performance flew under the radar, and he went largely overlooked. After combining for 183 tackles (9.5 for loss) and 1.5 sacks over his first two seasons, it’s time to pay attention to one of the SEC’s rising stars.

A standout at Cedar Hill High School in Cedar Hill, Texas, Moore eclipsed 200 tackles and notched 15 sacks over his high school career — his efforts spearheaded by a 90-tackle (18 for loss) and 12-sack senior season. A highly coveted three-star recruit, Moore had his pick of over a dozen institutions, and ultimately decided on Vanderbilt over the likes of Colorado and Kansas State.

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Bursting onto the scene

Spending his first season grinding on the Commodores’ scout team as he gradually adjusted to the collegiate game, Dimitri Moore’s redshirt season of drudgery played a critical role in preparing him for future success.

By the time Moore took the field as a redshirt freshman in 2018, it was evident the game had slowed down for the Texas native. When fall camp concluded, the versatile linebacker earned a prominent role on first-year defensive coordinator Jason Tarver’s unit and appeared poised to take the SEC by storm.

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Appearing in 13 games, including ten starts, Moore amassed 84 tackles (3.5 for loss), 1.0 sack, and three passes defended. The 6-foot-3, 230-pound linebacker impressed with his innate range and fluidity. Moore’s season highlights included a career-high 11-tackle effort against Florida, and five solo stops against the Baylor Bears in the Texas Bowl.

Moore was also named to the SEC All-Freshman team and earned SEC Academic Honor Roll recognition.

Redshirt sophomore emergence

With his first season of action unanimously deemed a success, Moore was quickly becoming touted as one of the SEC’s rising stars on the defensive side of the ball.

Entering his third year with the program, Moore shouldered a leadership role as a redshirt sophomore. Playing in 12 games, including nine starts, Moore produced a team-leading 99 tackles (six for loss), a half-sack, and three passed defended. Moore finished among the top-10 in the SEC in tackles, which included double-digit stops in five of the final seven games.

Outside of Moore’s success, there was little to celebrate for the Commodores in 2019. The offensive and defensive units struggled mightily to establish cohesion, resulting in a dismal 3-9 record (1-7 in conference play).

Vanderbilt LB Dimitri Moore’s 2020 outlook

If the 2020 campaign does get off the ground, expect the Vanderbilt Commodores to finish as SEC cellar-dwellers for a second consecutive season. The Commodores don’t yet have the requisite talent to match up with the conference’s powerhouses, so their losing ways could linger for the foreseeable future.

While it’s natural to write a team off with a perpetually dreary outlook, to overlook a talent like Dimitri Moore would be utter negligence.

Moore, an instinctual linebacker with off-the-charts athleticism, has next-level ability. Whether it’s his sideline-to-sideline range, spatial awareness, or terrific closing speed, the Vanderbilt linebacker’s skillset translates over as a three-down defender at the professional level. When you take into account his length, coverage prowess, and versatility to align in various formations, Moore could see his draft stock skyrocket in the coming months. He fits the prototype of the new-age NFL linebacker.