His quick tongue and equally quick analytical mind are what prompted his high school history teacher, Tom Silvia, to suggest a career in law. The jury on Moore as a player, however, is still out. Moments after the Hokies thrashed Virginia 31-7 on Oct. 2, Cavaliers guard Noel LaMontagne said, "We've seen better defensive ends, and we're going to see better defensive ends."
Even with the added perspective of 24 hours LaMontagne, while acknowledging Moore's influence on the game—four tackles, including a sack—contended that John Engelberger, Virginia Tech's other defensive end, was the Hokies' best lineman. LaMontagne might get an argument from Clemson, which was beaten 31-11 by the Hokies in a game that saw Moore set the standard by which every college defensive player should be judged in 1999. After inducing three illegal-procedure penalties and two holding penalties, Moore broke open a close game in the final four minutes by hurrying Tigers quarterback Brandon Streeter into an interception that was returned for a touchdown and then forcing a fumble and lugging the ball 32 yards himself for another score. "You don't see many six-footers around that can change the game the way Corey can," Beamer says of Moore, who also had two sacks against Clemson. "In his anticipation of the snap he gains a half step, and then there's no one fast enough to catch him. If you use one guy on him, you can't block him. I don't know if it makes any difference if it's a pro guy or a college guy. I don't think there's an offensive tackle anywhere who can block [him] on a consistent basis."
NFL scouts are more measured in their praise, and not simply because some of their estimates put Moore at about 5'11", 213 pounds. Moore's build and speed suggest a smallish pro linebacker or even a strong safety. Then again, taking him out of a three-point stance and moving him off the line would be like denying Maurice Greene starting blocks.
"You've got to find places for players like this," says Ted Sundquist, Denver Broncos director of college scouting. "But is he a defensive end? Not for us, he's not. We go by a set of parameters for certain positions, and while obviously those aren't hard and fast, you wouldn't put a 5'11", 210-pound offensive tackle out there, either. Now, is this guy a first-round talent? His production on the field says yes." Still another observer, an NFC general manager, demurs. "Unless he can walk on water," he said, "I don't know how [Moore] can be a first-round pick."
The defensive end shrugs at the deconstruction of Corey Moore. He considers himself simply a football player, one who can find a path to the ball from wherever he is asked to start. He will cross that NFL defensive coordinator when he gets to him. Right now he has unfinished business: two labor-relations courses and one in human-resources management that he is taking toward a second degree in management, and five more Big East games. "We're going to run the table in the conference," Moore says, a likelihood considering that the only remaining game against a nationally ranked opponent, Miami, is at Blacksburg on Nov. 13. If the Hokies can avoid the inexplicable meltdowns that have retarded the program's progress—they were shocked by Temple last year and by Miami of Ohio in 1997—and if the entrails of the inscrutable Bowl Championship Series ratings are read in their favor, an uncommon defensive end might help America hop on the Virginia Tech bandwagon.
Just follow the tubas.