Naples defensive back Devin Moore flips to Florida, giving new Gators coach Billy Napier a top recruit

Alex Martin
Naples Daily News

Naples defensive back Devin Moore had a message for the people in attendance watching his signing ceremony Wednesday morning.

"There are only three things guaranteed in life: death, taxes, and that Scared Money Don't Make Money," Moore said, referencing what Billy Napier said after being named the Gators new coach.

Moore officially flipped from Notre Dame to the Gators, giving new coach Napier his second-highest rated recruit in the 2022 class. Moore becomes the first defensive back out of high school to commit in the class, filling a key void for the secondary in future years.

"The proximity to home," Moore said when what went into his decision. "Both are great universities. Both have the combination that I was looking for, but it ultimately came down to my family having the chance to watch every game, and being four hours away from home."

With the commitment, that is likely to improve Florida’s class ranking. The Gators entered Wednesday morning with the No. 79 recruiting class in the nation and were dead last in the SEC of all 14 teams in the conference.

The All-American also said that he liked what Napier had to offer on an official visit this past weekend, describing the new culture as something that sold him on Florida.

Naples’ Devin Moore announces his commitment to play college football at Florida, Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2021, at Naples High School in Naples, Fla.

"I liked everything he had to offer," Moore said. "He said he was going to bring in a new culture. He's going to take a great players plan, and make it a combination with his people's plan. So they're not going to be bad guys out there on the field, they're not going to scare you to do something right.

"They're going to let you know how it is, being straight up with you but also being nice with it."

More:Signing Day: Bishop Verot's Chris Graves sticks with Miami, Lehigh's Aidan Gousby is a Gopher

Moore starred throughout his career in high school, compiling 160 tackles, 10 interceptions, five fumble recoveries, two forced fumbles, and a blocked punt. The 6-foot-3 defensive back didn’t have any interceptions as a senior – in part because the opposition didn’t throw his way often. He had a total of 25 passes defensed in four years on varsity, two years apiece under legendary coach Bill Kramer and rising star Rick Martin.

Martin said in his speech prior to Moore signing that he's "probably the best kid I've ever coached." He coached Moore on the freshman team in 2018 for four games before Moore got promoted to varsity shortly thereafter.

"Devin Moore, inside of a locker room, is almost something you can't describe," Martin said. "The way he mentored the younger players, the way he mentored the younger defensive backs, we have a young defensive back in Jonas Duclona who has Power Five offers, and he's like a little brother to Devin. It didn't have to be that way. It could've been a competitive thing. It could've been a jealousy thing, but Devin really took him under his wing.

Naples’ Devin Moore announces his commitment to play college football at Florida, Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2021, at Naples High School in Naples, Fla.

"To me, when you look at Devin, that's what separates him. In terms of the field, we didn't have to do anything. If there was a problem on our team, he took care of it. We didn't have a discipline issue. He handled everything in the locker room. He handled the lack of effort in the weight room. He was the one that really policed our team, and really made it a joy to coach that team this year."

Initially committed to the Irish since July 4, Moore backed off that pledge following the news of Brian Kelly’s departure to LSU on Nov. 30. From there, it was a full-court press from Florida, as former Golden Eagles and then-cornerbacks coach Jules Montinar visited Moore in-home the night the Kelly news broke.

Montinar was not retained by Napier after an On3 report released on Dec. 8 revealed Florida hired LSU’s Corey Raymond for the same position. Raymond produced seven different All-Americans at LSU, which included Jamal Adams, Tre’Davious White, Grant Delpit, Derek Stingley Jr., and Greedy Williams, all of which were drafted in the first two rounds of the NFL Draft.

"It was definitely chaotic and crazy," Moore added. "You didn't know which coach was going to get fired, or which coach was going to get kept. It made you look beyond the coaches and find the best fit for you, school-wise."

It turned into a two-horse race between the Irish and the Gators when new head coach Marcus Freeman, cornerbacks coach Mike Mickens, and recruiting director Chad Bowden flew midweek lastto Naples to visit the four-star prospect. Florida sent assistant coach Patrick Toney a day before Moore met with Freeman and company, and days before his official visit to Gainesville this past weekend.

“It was great having the three in my house, we had a very good time talking about everything," Moore said the day after the in-home visit with Notre Dame. "Marcus said his vision for the program was to win championships while strengthening the brotherhood and having fun with it. He also said since he was previously a defensive coordinator, he has to gain and maintain trust from the offense also."

Naples' Devin Moore (3) and Naples' Jonas Duclona (2) pose for a portrait during the de facto Florida 6A District 14 championship between South Fort Myers and Naples, Friday, Oct. 22, 2021, at Naples High School in Naples, Fla.

Naples defeated South Fort Myers 51-19.

That ultimately wasn’t a hard enough sell for Moore to recommit to the Irish and enroll in South Bend next month. Instead, it’ll be a much shorter trip to the UF campus, as the Gators look to reclaim their status as a top 10 program in the nation and compete within the SEC against the likes of Alabama, Georgia, Ole Miss, and Texas A&M.

Follow Southwest Florida Sports Writer Alex Martin on Twitter: @NP_AlexMartin. For the best sports coverage in Southwest Florida, follow @newspresssports and @ndnprepzone on Instagram.