TAMPA, Fla. - As a fifth-year senior for the University of South Carolina football team, linebacker Skai Moore has literally been there for perhaps the highest point of the program and some of the lowest points. He is hoping he goes out on a high point with his teammates on Monday when they face Michigan in the Outback Bowl.
"It's been a long process for sure," said Moore. "It goes by quick, no matter even with my fifth-year deal, it still goes by quick. I've been sitting and thinking about all of this. I'm happy it's my last game."
Moore has been a standout for USC since he arrived on campus. He led USC in tackles in each of the first three years he played, and he holds a 13-tackle lead over fellow linebacker T.J. Brunson entering Monday's game against the Wolverines, who are 8-4 on the season. He also needs one interception to become the school's all-time leader in that category.
Moore, who was originally committed to Rutgers before signing with South Carolina, feels that he has acquitted himself well over the past five years.
"I was an overlooked guy," Moore said. "Down there in south Florida, a lot of guys get overlooked. I had a chip on my shoulder coming in, and I just always wanted to prove people wrong. People thought I was too undersized to play the position I do in this league, but I feel I proved people wrong."
As a freshman in 2013, Moore was part of South Carolina's third straight 11-2 team. The Gamecocks beat Wisconsin 34-24 in the Capital One Bowl. The following season USC dropped to 7-6 and cratered the following season as Steve Spurrier resigned as head coach in the middle of the season and Carolina went on to a 3-9 season.
Moore's fourth year saw South Carolina rebound to 6-7 under first-year head coach Will Muschamp, but Moore was sidelined the entire season with a neck injury. He came back this year and has helped the Gamecocks to an 8-4 season and more than likely his fourth year as the leading tackle.
Moore said he doesn't worry about the tackles issue when he plays, but it is still a nice accomplishment.
"We're focused on the scheme and trying to get our gaps right," Moore said of himself and Brunson. "He's going to make his plays and I'm going to make my plays. But it means a lot. It's a big accomplishment. Of all the guys that have played college football, only 15 guys (have led their team in tackles in four seasons). That's something that's big."
Moore has 88 tackles on the season to 75 for Brunson. His three interceptions give him 14 for his career, tying him with Bo Davies for the school lead.
"I hope (Moore) gets that last pick, Brunson said. "I want him to get that pick. Everyone does. That's a big deal, for a linebacker to have that many interceptions."
Moore knows how he wants to be remembered.
"A player who showed up on Saturdays and did what he had to do to help his team win," he said. "A good leader that's a good person and a guy who always made plays."