BLOOMINGTON — Griffin Moore sent in his signed national letter of intent to the University of Illinois on Wednesday. Soon, possibly as early as Thursday, the Bloomington High School senior will receive something in return from the Illinois football coaching staff.
The contents will be a workout and weight training program the Illini have in place for Moore, a 6-foot-4, 225-pounder who is projected as a tight end.
“I’ve very excited for it. I’ve been wanting to get on that program for a while and get myself ready for next year,” Moore said following an afternoon signing ceremony at BHS. “It’s great to be official now. It’s a relief, but at the same time, now it’s really time to go to work. It’s go time.”
A starter on BHS’ state-ranked basketball team, Moore already has begun his transition from a Class 6A all-state quarterback to a tight end.
Purple Raiders’ coach Scott Godfrey said Moore has found time to run pass routes since BHS’ 7-3 playoff season ended.
“He’s getting our guys out there and they’re throwing to him now,” Godfrey said. “I’ve seen him put a lot of time into catching the football. To see him running around and catching the ball, it’s something I can see him doing (at Illinois).”
Moore threw for 1,907 yards and 24 touchdowns this season, setting a school record with 132 completions. He had a 63 percent completion rate with eight interceptions and also ran for 256 yards and seven TDs.
They were pretty good numbers for a future tight end.
“At first I was kind of like, ‘I want to be a quarterback, I want to be a quarterback’ because it’s fun,” said Moore, who committed to the Illini in March. “But I’m excited. I’ve been putting in a lot of work trying to get where I need to be. There’s a lot more to do, but I’m very excited.
“I think one thing about our (recruiting) class is everybody loves the game. All of us are dedicated to making Illinois good. Everybody is willing to go in and work to get Illinois football back to where we think it can be.”
Illinois is 9-27 in three seasons under head coach Lovie Smith, who received a contract extension from athletic director Josh Whitman in late November following a 4-8 season.
Asked if that was a relief, Moore said, “I think the relieving part was the A.D. has faith in him.”
“I’m coming in at the right time,” Moore added. “Things are trending up.”
Lovie Smith likes Moore’s athleticism, saying, “We look for good athletes. He played quarterback most of the time, he’s an excellent basketball player and a good student.”
“Griffin is also close by, a local guy, which adds a little bit different flavor to it,” Smith added. “We’re excited about having him join the team.”
Illini offensive coordinator Rod Smith, who called Moore “Big Griff,” predicted Moore is “naturally going to be able to morph into that position (tight end) and upgrade that position.”
Illinois tight ends coach Cory Patterson is eager to get started.
“I can’t wait to get Griffin in. He’s my guy," Patterson said. "He’s more physical than people think he is, but he’s cerebral. He knows the game. I think we’re going to be able to get a lot out of Griffin.”
So does Godfrey. He believes the Illini are getting a “total package” in Moore, who also may play baseball this spring at BHS.
“Honestly, I don’t think this could happen to a more deserving kid,” Godfrey said. “That’s a big reason I tried to get as many of our football guys here today as I could.
"It’s good for them to see this happen for a great student, great kid, no discipline problem, a great athlete … that’s what we’re trying to promote and we want more kids like that.”