Birmingham, Ala.--Already earning a spot in the U.S. Army All-American Game in San Antonio in January, on Tuesday four-star Auburn commitment Tadarian Moultry received even more good news when he was named one of 16 finalists for the U.S. Army National Player of the Year.
Finishing the season with 133 total tackles, 10 tackles for losses, six quarterback hurries, five sacks, four pass break-ups and two forced fumbles, Moultry was a wrecking crew for the Jackson-Olin Mustangs as he helped them reach the playoffs for the first time in a decade.
Still growing and maturing as a player, Moultry is someone who Coach Tim Vakakes says is a worthy candidate for an award like the U.S. Army Player of the Year.
“The thing about T.D. is that he’s obviously a good football player, but his character just sets him apart from a lot of talented kids out there,” Vakakes tells Inside The Auburn Tigers. “He’s only played football for two years and last year we had him at safety. We moved him to linebacker hoping he would be an impact kid and he absolutely was.
“In terms of being aggressive, being physically and mentally tough, running sideline to sideline tracking the ball, the sky is the limit for him,” the coach adds. “He’s just now tapping into who he can be on the football field. He’s 225 pounds with absolutely no body fat on him whatsoever. Once he puts on more weight and keeps developing the sky is the limit for him at linebacker.
“He’s not going to do anything off the field to make himself or anyone else look bad. He’s going to represent himself, represent his family and represent Auburn in a positive way every day he’s down there.”
Making that move from safety to linebacker and with very little football experience under his belt, Moultry used his 4.6 speed in the 40-yard dash to make plays. Vakakes says as the season developed he watched his talented defender go from just physical football player to instinctive linebacker.
“He improved during the year,” Vakakes points out. “Early on he would read it so fast and he would get there so fast sometimes he would overrun. Later on in the year after the first few games he realized he could still get there very fast, but he was able to keep inside leverage on the ball. He got much better at that as the year went on and he realized how fast he gets there once he makes his mind up on where he’s going.
“He developed in that he would track the ball from behind and not overrun stuff,” he adds. “In terms of that he really improved. Like I said, it’s his first year playing linebacker. The more he learns to read and play with his hands and take on blocks and get off blocks, the sky is the limit because he’s a very long kid.”
Expecting Moultry to be 240 pounds by next fall and ready to help the Auburn defense, Vakakes notes he is excited about the next chapter for his star defender, but first he’s ready to see him reap the rewards for his hard work at the U.S. Army Game in Texas.
“The type of person he is and all that he’s been through, he deserves it,” Vakakes says. “He’s just an awesome person. The notion that the good guys finish last, this is the case of that not being true.”