Collins Moore hasn’t ripped off a long punt return for a touchdown, and there’s something else very important that he hasn’t done.
He hasn’t fumbled the football.
Moore, a senior who will seek a sixth year of eligibility after the season because of previous injuries, has given the Rebels some stability in the return game.
“Collins has given us some comfort in knowing what to do in the punt return unit,” Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze said.
Carlos Davis had shown some big-play ability back there – including one return of 58 yards – but had also struggled with a couple of turnovers.
Moore began the return duties against Memphis. He’s been deep many times more than his six returns for 19 total yards.
“You play it by the punter,” said Moore on whether to fair catch or try for a return. “Texas A&M and Auburn had really good punters so their hang time was up there. It was so high was able to see the coverage then fair catch and catch the ball.
“If I can tell it’s going over my head I’m going to let it go. I’m going to catch it if it’s going to land on the 5 and their coverage unit is possibly behind me trying to down it at the 1. If I don’t catch it, it’s a possibility they will.”
Moore signed with Houston Nutt’s Rebels in 2011. He was the lesser known of the wide receivers group that included Nick Brassell, Tobias Singleton and Donte Moncrief.
Still, through his work ethic Moore found his way to the field as a true freshman playing in 10 games and starting three. He had four catches on the year, one of them for a 37-yard gain with the Rebels coming out of their end zone at Kentucky.
He had one punt return in his career, that one at Mississippi State in 2013. He wasn’t considered part of the plan when this season began.
The week of the Memphis game Moore was fielding punts before practice on his own time.
“I didn’t have any drops, so I asked to come back after practice and catch more. Then the receivers were joking about it, and it was kind of funny because we were doing our stretch, and a punt came over, and I ended up catching it just sitting there laying on the ground stretching.”
Moore is glad to be contributing to special teams.
“It’s a pretty big role. It kind of sets field position for the offense.”