Moore de­clares for NFL draft

Ag­gies’ DE de­cides to skip se­nior year; 2 oth­ers con­sid­er­ing leav­ing school early.

Austin American-Statesman - - SPORTS - By Suzanne Hal­libur­ton shal­libur­ton@states­man.com Con­tact Suzanne Hal­libur­ton at 445-3954. Twit­ter: @ suzhal­libur­ton

AR­LING­TON — Texas A&M de­fen­sive end Da­mon­tre Moore de­clared for the NFL draft late Sun­day, and two of his team­mates are con­sid­er­ing the same op­tion.

Ear­lier in the day, Moore, a ju­nior, said he had yet to make a de­ci­sion on the NFL. Later Sun­day, he is­sued a state­ment to say Fri­day’s game against Ok­la­homa in the Cot­ton Bowl would be his last as an Ag­gie.

“To­day is a sad moment and a happy moment,” Moore said. “It’s al­ways been a dream of mine to play in the NFL, but I’ve loved my time rep­re­sent­ing the 12th Man and with my team­mates at Texas A&M. Wher­ever I go, I will al­ways be an Ag­gie at heart.”

Of­fen­sive tack­les Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews also are con­sid- er­ing early en­try into April’s draft. Each is a ju­nior and nei­ther has red­shirted.

All un­der­class­men have un­til Jan. 15 to make a de­ci­sion on the draft.

Moore, an All-Amer­i­can, is pro­jected as a po­ten­tial top-five pick. Na­tional draft ex­pert Mel Kiper listed him as the fourth-best prospect avail­able, although mock drafts are very fluid with so many weeks be­fore the all-star games, the NFL com­bine and in­di­vid­ual on-cam­pus work­outs.

Moore thrived in A&M’s 4-3 scheme un­der new de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Mark Sny­der, lead­ing the team in both tack­les (80) and sacks (12.5). He’s on track to be the first Ag­gie line­man to lead the team in tack­les since Sam Adams did so in 1993.

Joeckel also is con­sid­ered an elite pick in early mock drafts. Kiper has him at No. 5 over­all. His stock has risen dra­mat­i­cally through the sea­son, which was capped by his win­ning the Out­land Tro­phy.

“It was the best deci- sion of my life just coming here,” said Joeckel, whose twin brother, Matt, is the team’s third-string quar­ter­back. “It’s go­ing to be hard to leave all the peo­ple; no mat­ter what hap­pens, it’s go­ing to be hard.”

Joeckel and Matthews have asked the NFL un­der­class­men com­mit­tee for a draft grade.

Joeckel and Matthews have been starters since 2010, when they were raw true fresh­men. Moore lived up to his ath­letic po­ten­tial this sea­son, af­ter A&M switched to the 4-3 un­der Sny­der.

Matthews has a pres­ti­gious panel of ex­perts to help him with his de­ci­sion, all re­lated to him. His fa­ther, grand­fa­ther, un­cle and two cousins played in the NFL.

Notes

Johnny Manziel, the first fresh­man to win the Heis­man, was the star at­trac­tion Sun­day. He sported new-look glasses, say­ing he’s had so many late nights and early wake-up calls he needed to give his eyes a rest.

Ok­la­homa coach Bob Stoops has cleared re­ceiver Jalen Saun­ders to play in the Cot­ton Bowl. Saun­ders, a trans­fer from Fresno State, was ar­rested in early De­cem­ber on a misdemeanor drug pos­ses­sion charge.

Saun­ders has played in only eight games this sea­son but has caught 53 passes.

“If I wasn’t go­ing to play, I was go­ing to have to help out my team­mates,” Saun­ders told re­porters Sun­day. “And if I was play­ing, I was pre­par­ing my­self and for the team. It was, I guess you could say, a win-win, in both sit­u­a­tions. I was go­ing to help my team re­gard­less.”

Stoops did sus­pend se­nior de­fen­sive tackle Stacy McGee, who was ar­rested a week ago for driv­ing while in­tox­i­cated, for the Cot­ton Bowl.

McGee served a sixgame sus­pen­sion to be­gin the sea­son for a vi­o­la­tion of univer­sity rules.

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