Over the past six years, I have had the pleasure of interviewing nearly 300 players as they prepared to continue their careers and play professional football. Most, if not all, players have provided me fascinating insight to what they are going through in preparation for that next step; what the life of a college football player is really like, and their hopes for life after football. Occasionally, I come across players who just floor me with their maturity, dedication and wisdom when it comes to football and life. Sio Moore from the University of Connecticut is one of those players, and all fans should hope their teams can add a guy like this to their roster.
Footballdialogue: At what age did your family come from Liberia?
Sio: I was less than a year old when I came to the United States. There was a war going on and the people were fighting against the government, and my mother worked for the government. They discovered after we left that there was a hit on my mother, and we discovered that shortly after we left the house we lived in it was attacked and shot up.
Footballdialogue: What is your official height, weight and speed?
Sio: I am 6’1” 240 pounds and expect to run between a 4.48 and a 4.5 forty yard dash.
Footballdialogue: I see you moved to North Carolina in high school from Connecticut but decided on playing at Connecticut for college. Was your heart always in Connecticut or did you get offers to play elsewhere?
Sio: It’s a funny story, as I didn’t really get recruited out of high school. East Carolina showed some interest but I was in Connecticut visiting my mother as I had been living with my older sister (14 years older) in North Carolina and was considering moving back. I decided to go to a few camps in the surrounding area and met Coach George Deleone who was at Temple at the time and Coach Matt Cersosimo at the time. I did all the wide receiver and running back drills and then they flipped me over and had me do some defensive drills, and after that camp, Coach Edsall offered me a scholarship on the spot. It’s funny, as soccer was my greatest love, but I got too big for it.
Footballdialogue: While you have many amazing games during your time at Connecticut what game stands out as the most memorable?
Sio: Honestly, there isn’t one game that jumps out as I played every game with a chip on my shoulder. I played mad as I grew tired of people thinking we didn’t have talent at our school. We had a top ten defense the past two years as we were a good team with really good players. No one liked to run the ball against us. I love my university and my teammates as we played for each other. We learned that if you make the person feel worth something then the player performs that much more.
Footballdialogue: With what type of defense do you feel most comfortable a 4-3 or 3-4?
Sio: Honestly, with the foundation I got early in my career at Connecticut with Coach Todd Orlando, I feel comfortable in any system. He taught to have the pop come from my hips and not my shoulders, how to punch with my hands, he worked with me and I learned so much. Coach Don Brown worked with me and taught the intricacies of the SAM (Strong inside linebacker) position. I learned so much from all my coaches, I will never be able to repay them.
Footballdialogue: Where have you been training in preparation for the combine and Pro Days?
Sio: I have been training at Athletes Performance Institute (API) in Pensacola, Fla.
Footballdialogue: What was the biggest difference between Coach Edsell and Coach Pasqualoni?
Sio: Two great coaches and great men who taught me so much I can never thank them enough. Coach Edsall is a very good manager of men. Coach Pasqualoni is a football coach; he can make anyone into a football player as he is an incredible coach. He taught me how to excel, taught me the art of being a pass rusher, he simply got me to make the best of my skills.
Footballdialogue: What are your feelings about playing special teams?
Sio: Playing special teams is my thing, as it was the first way I got onto the field. I love busting my tail on special teams running down on a punt and causing a big turnover. Some people don’t fully understand just how important special teams are to a game. A special team’s turnover or big play can change a game in a heartbeat.
Footballdialogue: You totaled 274 tackles at UConn. I have to ask, can you remember your first tackle in college?
Sio: Yes, I can, it was my redshirt freshmen year in the game against Rhode Island. It was in the fourth quarter with less than four minutes to play and it was a zone read where I shot the gap. I think I finished with something like six tackles in that little bit of time.
Footballdialogue: What other sports did you play in high school?
Sio: I ran track, but that was about it as I didn’t play organized sports a lot as a kid.
Footballdialogue: What do you have to say to those critics who say you must use your hands more consistently to beat blocks at the line?
Sio: I think I am constantly improving at that, but I always remember that no one plays perfect, so any critics should know I’m always working at improving.
Footballdialogue: Who was your favorite NFL player growing up?
Sio: Funny, when I really got into football, the team that I gravitated to was the Baltimore Ravens and ironically the man that caught my attention was Ray Lewis. I am a big fan of Ray Lewis. As I’ve grown more, and in an attempt to always improve I’ve watched a lot of film on guys like Derrick Brooks and Zach Thomas. I love the way they carried themselves on and off the field.
Footballdialogue: I read you were a political science major at UConn. What are the chances after your football career is over that you jump into the political ring?
Sio: I’m not sure, as right now my plan is to go back to school and get another degree something in the math/business law area. I really want to give back and help the young kids in my area. I helped at a camp last summer and enjoyed every second of it, so something like that would be great too. Probably the thing I am looking most forward to is being a great husband and a great dad. I grew up without a father, and I can’t wait for when the day comes and I’m a husband and a father.
Footballdialogue: Can we follow you on Twitter?