January 7, 2011

JUCO All-American return specialist picks Ole Miss

Philander Moore was skeptical upon his arrival in Oxford Thursday.

The junior college All-American return specialist had committed to Utah but agreed to take an official visit to Ole Miss after Houston Nutt and Co. made the trip to Texas in a last-ditch effort to change his mind.

Moore left north Mississippi Friday afternoon, more than a little thrilled that he kept an open mind.

"As soon as I get off the plane, I'm signing my papers with Ole Miss," Moore said. "My trip to Oxford was amazing. It went great."

Moore, an Austin, Texas, native who returned six kicks for touchdowns last season at Blinn (Texas) Community College, will enroll at Ole Miss later this month and go through spring drills. He's also expected to help out at running back and wide receiver for the Rebels.

"At first, I was kind of skeptical because I didn't know what I was walking into, but it was a great experience," Moore said. "I got to see the school, talk to some players, see the Grove. It was way more than I expected."

Moore suffered an injury as a high school senior and didn't receive any Division I-A scholarship offers at that time. Late last season, however, interest in the 5-foot-9, 180-pound speedster exploded. Still, Moore admitted Friday afternoon that he "didn't see this coming. I knew I was a good return specialist and my team and coaches have confidence in me, but I never would have expected I'd be playing in the Southeastern Conference."

Moore said he doesn't plan to spend too much time reflecting.

"My first thoughts are I want to be ready to play in the Southeastern Conference," Moore said. "I have to start working out a lot harder now and pushing myself harder than I already have."

Still, Moore admitted the whirlwind of the last few weeks has been one he'll never forget.

"It's unbelievable," Moore said. "It's like a dream."

Moore said he told the Ole Miss coaches of his plans Thursday evening.

"They were excited," Moore said. "I think they were more excited than I was. My parents were ecstatic and my old coaches were excited for me. It was unbelievable."

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