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Purdue Football Player Countdown: #4 Rondale Moore

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It is a bittersweet day on the countdown.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 14 TCU at Purdue Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Today we were supposed to have two players.

The first is one that was already covered a few weeks ago. Marvin Grant wore #4 on defense last season, switched to #26 in the spring, but when the fall roster was revealed he was back at #4. His previous post can be read here.

We all know the other No. 4, so let’s make this a tribute post.

Rondale Moore - NFL Draft Early Entrant

New Albany, IN (Louisville Trinity HS)

5’9”, 180 pounds

Wide Receiver

2020 Projection: NFL Draft pick in the first 50 picks

As I have said before here, I do not fault Rondale for the decision he made. It sucks that we only got to see him for 17 games in his college career. An injury cost him most of year two and year three was wiped out by a damn pandemic and the wishy-washy “leadership” of the Big Ten.

What a 17 games it was though.

Let’s look at the raw numbers.

  • He finished his career at Purdue with 143 receptions for 1,645 yards and 14 touchdowns.
  • He also rushed for 206 yards and 2 touchdowns, had another 118 yards on punt returns, and 750 yards on kickoff returns.
  • Even while playing a season and a third he finished his career 14th in receptions, 20th in receiving yards, and 15th in career receiving touchdowns.
  • His 2018 season was only the second time ever a Purdue receiver had 100 or more receptions in a single season, the first being 121 by Chris Daniels in 1999.
  • In terms of all-purpose yards he finished 20th with 2,782, but his 2018 season of 2,215 is the best in school history.
  • The 313 all-purpose yards he had against Northwestern in 2018 is also the school’s single game record, AND HE DID IT IN HIS FIRST DAMN COLLEGIATE GAME AND HAD NEARLY 300 AT HALFTIME!!!!!!!!!
  • Even in the unmerciful beatdown that was the Music City Bowl he had 11 catches for 94 yards and 3 rushes for 10 yards and a score. Even in a game where Auburn sat on our heads for three and a half hours they couldn’t stop him.

Those numbers are jaw dropping. It was good enough for him to be the first consensus All-American as a true freshman in Big Ten history. He also won the Paul Hornung Award as the nation’s most versatile player, the Big Ten’s Receiver of the Year and Freshman of the Year, and was Big Ten Freshman of the Week four times. As it sometimes says when you’re playing NCAA ‘14, at the awards ceremony at the end of the year he needed an extra suitcase just to get them all home.

We all knew that leaving after three seasons was very likely. There were dreams of four years though, and had he somehow stayed for four uninterrupted seasons he would have shattered every school receiving record and probably some Big Ten and NCAA ones.

It was more than that, however. It was the sheer awe and recognition he brought to Purdue football on the national stage. Check out The People’s Guide to Rondale Moore that Spencer Hall wrote before last season, which includes plenty of highlight porn in it:

Moore’s debut was hilarious. Northwestern had no Moore college game tape to study and clearly had no idea what it was dealing with. As eye-popping as his high school tape might have been, the Wildcats couldn’t have predicted 188 yards and two TDs on 13 touches in his first game.

Most of that yardage happened via simple stuff, a lot like what Moore ran in high school: screens, crossing routes, and quick touches reliant on sheer speed.

This is third and 1, just a simple handoff. Northwestern has a blocked defender right in his path and another tackler in good position to stop a freshman one-on-one. How’s that go?

I like to describe Moore as a “Just how the hell do you stop that guy?” guy. Any time he touched the football there was the potential for a big play. Again, he played 17 games in his Purdue career, but he had a play of at least 39 yards (many of them for a lot more) in 11 of them. Only two teams really held him in check, and strangely one was Eastern Michigan, where he had just 3 catches for 16 yards. He still had a 53 yard run where he likely would have scored had Jared Sparks not gotten in his way. TCU also held him to 3 catches for 25 yards last year, but that was a week after he had a 13-220-1 game against poor Vanderbilt (the third best yardage game in school history). This is a guy that would have had more yards if that pesky end zone didn’t keep getting in the way.

That TCU game was a microcosm of the Moore experience. Redshirt freshman Jack Plummer was pressed into his first career start after Elijah Sindelar had thrown for 900+ yards in the first two games, but suffered a concussion against Vanderbilt (and what do Moore and Sindelar do together all of last year?). Purdue struggled offensively all night, but trailed only 13-6 deep into the third. Despite the struggles, I was hopeful simply because, “if we get the ball to Rondale he might do something.”

What a luxury to have that type of player.

If anything, he pressed a little too much last year. His two punt return mistakes at Nevada cost us dearly. I didn’t even notice his final play in his Purdue career. I was too busy noticing that Sindelar was down and not getting up. My wife told me, “Oh goodness, Rondale is down.” I told her, pointing, “No, it’s Sindelar. She then corrected me with, “no, it’s Rondale too.

Fucking Minnesota. It is always Minnesota where promising Purdue seasons die.

The good news is we will still be able to watch him. He will play at the highest level in 2021. My dream? The New Orleans Saints draft him and he scores the winning touchdown in Super Bowl LVI at SoFi stadium, allowing Drew Brees to ride off into the sunset with another Super Bowl ring. Doesn't that sound great? Brees was the last transformative player for Purdue that drew national interest to our program. Having him pass that torch to Rondale as they play together in Drew’s potential final season would be epic.

At least we will have the highlights. We have that first game against Northwestern, where he paused to juke a defender, then simply left one of the Big Ten’s better defenses in the dust for a 79 yard touchdown. We have the hit and spin, keeping his knee 1/64th of an inch off the ground before leaving a hapless Boston College defender in his vapor trail. We have him throwing a wicked spin move against Wisconsin’s Eric Burrell. We have him absolutely abusing the Indiana secondary in Bloomington to keep the Bucket. We also have the highlight that will be replayed for years in West Lafayette of him breaking away from FOUR (!!!!) Ohio State tacklers in the beatdown of the Buckeyes. No less than seven Ohio State players, many of them blue-chip four star recruits, had at least a modest chance to get him on that play if you rewatch it. He made them all look like fools with a combination of speed, strength, agility, and determination.

Fare thee well, Rondale. May you start torching The League now.