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Why fifth-year senior safety Malik Moore has to decide now whether he’ll return next year

The San Diego product can call this his redshirt season and be eligible next year — that is if he doesn’t play another game in 2022, including Saturday against Utah Tech

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BYU defensive back defensive back D’Angelo Mandell, left, celebrates Malik Moore’s interception.

BYU defensive back defensive back D’Angelo Mandell, left, celebrates Malik Moore’s interception on Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018. Moore could come back for one more year, but must make the decision sooner rather than later.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Of the 37 BYU football players who will be honored at LaVell Edwards Stadium before Saturday’s final home game of the 2022 season — against dangerous FCS foe Utah Tech — on senior day, 24 have decisions to make.

Those 24 have not exhausted their eligibility, and 23 of the players must decide in the next few months whether they will continue playing college football in 2023 or move on to professional football or the working world.

“Most likely I will come back, but I am still walking Saturday. I am still trying to figure out what I want to do in my life, so the plan hopefully is to come back. But it is all in God’s hands.” — BYU senior safety Malik Moore

The 24th is safety Malik Moore. In essence, Moore must decide in the next few weeks whether this is his last season or not. That’s because the fifth-year senior has only played in four games this year, due a fractured hand suffered against Wyoming, and can call this his redshirt season and come back next year if he remains on the sidelines.

Or if Moore, whose right hand is out of its cast and feeling much better, plays in another game in 2022 — the Cougars play at Stanford next week — his redshirt will be burned and he’s out of eligibility.

He told the Deseret News after Tuesday’s practice in the 38 degree temperature of Provo that he hasn’t made a decision yet, despite a Tuesday morning tweet from an NIL company he is involved with, Coug Connect, saying he is returning to BYU in 2023.

“As of right now, I am not truly sure I am coming back,” he said. “Yeah, they posted it, so I texted them to delete it, because I am not sure.”

After Saturday’s game, Moore will join most of the other 37 players in making the arm-in-arm walk from the north end zone to the south end zone, but he says nothing definitive should be read into that. For instance, last year five of the players who received their senior blankets and made the walk — Matthew Criddle, Gunner Romney, Joe Tukuafu, Lopini Katoa and Earl Tuioti-Mariner — ended up returning in 2022.

“Most likely I will come back, but I am still walking Saturday,” he said. “I am still trying to figure out what I want to do in my life, so the plan hopefully is to come back. But it is all in God’s hands. If I come back, I will ball out. If I don’t, then it was great being at BYU. So yeah.”

Moore said he discussed different scenarios with BYU’s coaches, and they are not opposed to whatever he decides.

“If I decide to play this week or against Stanford, or (in the bowl game), then this would be my last (season), and they would definitely support me,” he said.

Moore said when he broke his hand Sept. 24 and had it casted, he could have theoretically played, but wouldn’t have been able to showcase his ball skills and didn’t want to have that affect how pro scouts evaluated him. But the cast is off now, and he’s close to his old self.

He has played in 47 games through five seasons, with 64 tackles, five interceptions and four pass breakups. If he does decide to move on, he knows he will need a standout pro day in March to catch attention from scouts.

“Right now, I doubt me being drafted is a thing, because I haven’t played most of the season, and I didn’t show enough on tape of things I had to fix, which was a huge part of this year,” he said. “That’s why I was so hyped (in September), because in those four games I was balling, I was going good.”

Moore earned his degree in family life studies last spring and has been doing some post-graduate work. He grew up in Mississippi and prepped at Point Loma High in the San Diego area.

He said a lot of conversations are going on in BYU’s locker room this month, as players try to decide their futures, futures that were complicated when the pandemic hit in 2020 and the NCAA allowed an “extra” year of eligibility. Moore only played in five games that year, due to having COVID-19 and other issues.

“We are all trying to figure out what we are doing. There could be some people transferring, there could be some people staying, there could be some people who are not playing football ever again, and there may be some people who decide to come back,” he said. “It is going to be an interesting offseason. That’s what I have to say.”


Cougars on the air

Utah Tech (4-6)

at BYU (5-5)

Saturday, 1:30 p.m.

LaVell Edwards Stadium, Provo

TV: BYUtv

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