Chris Moody feels like he has at least one advantage over the offense as he begins his South Carolina career as a cornerback: He’s been a quarterback before.
Moody, a 6-foot-1, 208-pound freshman, was under center for Henry County High in McDonough, Ga. That experience will help him when he lines up in the Gamecocks’ secondary, he said.
“I know what they’re thinking about, what they’re looking at and what they’re going to try to do,” Moody said. “I feel like I can use that to my advantage.”
Moody is the latest high school quarterback the Gamecocks recruited to play safety or cornerback.
Stephon Gilmore made the switch from quarterback to full-time defensive back in 2009 when he joined USC from South Pointe High.
Former Gamecock Martay Mattox was a high school quarterback-turned-college defensive back. Class of 2013 commitment Pharoh Cooper of Havelock, N.C., plays quarterback in high school but will move to defense in college.
Moody played safety and cornerback in high school. As a senior quarterback, he passed for 1,475 yards, ran for 1,064 more and accounted for 22 touchdowns.
“You wouldn’t think this was his first time being a full-time defensive back,” said secondary coach Grady Brown, who praised Moody’s size, athleticism and footwork. “He’ll be a good player for us.”
The quarterback and secondary are both highly critical positions and have similarities in how they relate to a team’s success, Brown said.
“We’re out there on an island a lot of times,” Brown said. “It’s a position with a lot of ups and downs. People see you and they see your mistakes. Mentally, playing quarterback kind of prepares you to have the right mentality to be able to be a good defensive back.”
Players who are used to handling the ball can usually catch the ball well, Brown said. Handling the ball a lot also gives an athlete naturally soft hands, he said.
A spot in the rotation could be a year away, as Moody ended the preseason behind fellow freshmen Chaz Elder and T.J. Gurley.
Moody also might not be completely finished as a quarterback. He’s interested in playing it again out of the Wildcat formation, if called upon. He won’t miss the big hits he took as a quarterback in high school.
This summer, Moody said one of the biggest adjustments was having to look at things from a different point of view.
“It’s a steep learning curve coming form high school and playing quarterback the whole time,” Moody said. “I’m getting it down and it’s pretty fun.”