Oct 19, 2019; Hamilton, Ontario, CAN; Hamilton Tiger-Cats defeat the Toronto Argonauts 21-18 at Tim Hortons Field. Record setting 15th win for Hamilton and Coach Orlondo Steinauer. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski
Since the end of the 2019 season the Toronto Argonauts roster has undergone an almost complete overhaul. The club has added a combination of future Hall of Famers, top-flight Canadian talent, and a handful of high-profile former NFLers.
But perhaps the most interesting newcomer of all is Jordan Moore, potential Olympian. As in the 2021 Olympics. As in this year. His time in the 110m hurdles has qualified him to compete for a spot on the U.S. track team, which he will do next month.
What makes this story unique is not only is he a pro football player still capable of competing at a world-class level, but he’s a linebacker.
You read that right, not a receiver or a cornerback, a linebacker; and not a SAM linebacker either, he plays the middle or the weakside. In other words, he’s an athletic freak.
The versatile defender was acquired in a trade with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on the second day of 2020 free agency, which featured another negotiation list player coming to Toronto, with two neg list players headed back to the Hammer.
His CFL highlight came against the Argos on the final day of the 2019 regular season when he started at middle linebacker for Hamilton and recorded five tackles.
Back to football momentarily, but if you go into Moore’s history, you’ll find his track background is extraordinary.
A native of Lithonia, Georgia, who is currently training in Atlanta, Moore attended Texas Christian University in 2012 and 2013, playing receiver and running back. He also ran track at TCU, where he won the Big 12 championship in the 110m outdoor hurdles and the 60m indoor hurdles.
He transferred to LSU where he put football on the backburner and became a two-time All-American in track, winning the SEC title in the 60m indoor hurdles.
Moore finished his college career by transferring to University of Texas at San Antonio, where he was able to play football again, this time as a safety, while still running track.
He’s now 27 years old and he’s still running.
“I’ve already qualified for the Olympic trials (the 110m hurdles will be decided June 26 in Eugene, Oregon). I think the standard is 13.48, and I’ve already qualified with a 13.4, that was pretty much my average in college,” he told Argonauts.ca in a Zoom interview. “I have two meets going forward (to prepare for the U.S. Trials), and one in Sacramento that I’m deciding on, but I have two in Atlanta before they have the trials.”
How does his 13.4 stack him up against the world’s best, the athletes he’s going to have to compete against to qualify for The Summer Games?
“I may run a 13.3, I may run a 13.5 in the prelims, but I know once I come to those finals, I know the winner of that race is going to run a 13-flat or a 13.1 to go to Tokyo. A lot of those guys I raced in college and I beat, I think my chances are good. The way I train, I’m naturally gifted at being a hurdler, my speed is way better than it’s ever been and I have great coaches and great doctors around me. I’m training with gold medalist Dwight Phillips (2004 long jump) and my training partner Marquise Goodwin from the Chicago Bears.”
Somehow this doesn’t make any sense. A world-class hurdler who also plays middle linebacker. He says he weighed himself the other day and at 6’3” he came in at 224 pounds (down from 236), which has to be too big to run at the Olympic level, right?
“What most people didn’t know is I ran at 225 (pounds). When I won the SEC championship outdoors, I weighed in at 227. When I won indoors in the SEC championship, I was maybe 214, 215, but I almost starved myself to get there (laughs). I know in order for me to be elite and to do what I want to do with this small opportunity that I do have left to run track at this high of a level, I think I want to be 217, 215 in the race. I know for football I’ll be back at 235, 240.”
The prospects of having a hard-hitting linebacker with world-class speed has the Argo coaching staff and personnel department buzzing with excitement.
“What Coach Kevin (Linebackers Coach Eiben) and Pinball (General Manager Mike Clemons) are asking of me this year, and I know what I’m asking of myself, there’s another level of elite speed that I needed to go to and surpass where I was. In order to be great, I knew there was another level of speed I could go to, I just didn’t want to have a mediocre season.”
The elite speed is obvious, but what excites the Argos staff so much is his physical play. He loves to come down hill and punish whoever has the ball.
“When I put that helmet on and I get the chance to hit somebody, it’s just such an adrenaline rush for me. I know if I can play with my speed, and if I can come into them a little bit faster and hit them a little bit harder, it’s an adrenaline rush.”
Moore considers himself a student of the game, which will be necessary this season as he will likely find himself in any one of three positions. While the starting safety spot is wide open, Henoc Muamba and Cameron Judge are the presumed starters at middle and weakside linebacker respectively, but because of the Argos depth of starting Canadians, Moore could find himself in a position where he’s on the field in different spots at different times, depending on what Defensive Coordinator Glen Young draws up.
While the schematic possibilities are endless and the on-field prospects have him excited, Moore is also pumped about the opportunity to head down the QEW and call Toronto home.
“I would go on Instagram and say dang, Toronto looks beautiful. I liked Hamilton a lot, the people are great, but I’m from Atlanta, I’m from the city. When I got the (trade) call, I was excited because I like how Pinball is just a stand-up guy. You can’t help but love him. I knew when I got the call from Toronto, I could actually feel some longevity in the game. People can actually see what I’ve been trying to show the world forever. This is a great opportunity.”
He’ll get a chance to show the world his talent on the track in June, then head north to show off his athletic skills to a hungry Argo fan base.