South Carolina safety Chris Moody has been on the move so much, it’s earned him a title.
Sure it sounds a little renegade, but it means a little something to him.
“I play wherever I’m needed,” Moody said. “It’s fun.”
Last week, against East Carolina, he was asked to play a new position that really was an old position. Last winter, it seemed doubtful he’d be in position to do any of that at all.
Moody walked on senior day last year as a fourth-year junior. After seven starts in 2014, he had seen his playing time drop and decided to look elsewhere to play.
“I was graduating my senior year, and it wasn’t going to cost me anything,” Moody said. “I’ve been here a long time, since I was 17. I thought it would be an option to explore.”
Teammate D.J. Smith said Moody pondered looking into returning to his home state of Georgia. And then, in the middle of spring, Moody appeared back in a USC uniform at spring practice.
Good options didn’t really open up, he said, and he realized he’d be with a new coaching staff regardless.
In Smith’s opinion, then-defensive coordinator Jon Hoke didn’t play Moody enough. And there was another factor keeping Moody in Columbia.
“We talked him into coming back,” Smith said. “I think it was a good decision that he came back. He’s one of my dogs, so I’m happy for him.”
Moody said he’s pleased with any role that affords him a chance to play. Last week, he watched that chance grow.
It’s because of one particular aspect of his play.
“Chris is extremely bright,” Gamecocks coach Will Muschamp said. “Really, really smart, has a high football IQ, and it’s about putting him in the right spots. He missed all of spring basically, and in the little part of spring that he played, he wasn’t in very good shape because he didn’t go through the offseason program.”
Early in camp, the coaches asked whether Moody could slide down to linebacker. He’d been a safety, but he said he’d do what he could for the team. As a reserve he saw a few snaps against run-heavy Vanderbilt.
When starting safety Chaz Elder got hurt, and in an overhaul of South Carolina’s suddenly-thin secondary rotation, Moody found himself sliding back to his original position.
Against ECU, he was on the field for more than 40 snaps, making a couple tackles, playing a bit at linebacker and holding down the back end of the defense. Muschamp said Moody did some nice things, adding that it’s a credit to his understanding of the game that he could catch on at different spots so quickly.
Moody was just humble about it all, and feeling something else from the move back.
“Oooo, I was tired,” Moody said. “I felt like I played pretty decent. I didn’t really mess up too much. First time back at safety in almost a year, wasn’t too bad for me.”