Moore declares for NFL draft
Aggies’ DE decides to skip senior year; 2 others considering leaving school early.
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.
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.