The five-star high school quarterback didn’t grow up on the West Coast. He had no family ties to UCLA. He had never visited campus until this month. He didn’t even list the school among the 10 finalists he considered before verbally committing to Oregon.
None of that mattered.
In the ultimate comeback story, Monday’s UCLA flipped the engagement of the standout Detroit King High and pulled off the most colossal recruiting win of the Chip Kelly era.
“This is definitely the biggest recruiting flip I’ve seen on the West Coast,” said Greg Biggins, 247Sports’ longtime national recruiting analyst, of the recruiting site’s third-biggest prospect in his high school class. “I’ve never seen a school go so far from nothing to land such a high caliber kid.”
Announcing his commitment with a Twitter graphic showing him wearing sunglasses Above the images of the Hollywood sign and the Rose Bowl, Moore immediately becomes a possible high-end replacement for the outgoing Dorian Thompson-Robinson, who hasn’t announced if he will play a final game at the Sun Bowl against Pittsburgh on December 30 will.
“Super excited for him,” said Thompson-Robinson, who spoke with Moore while attending the practice as part of a recent campus visit. “Any time you can bring a big player into your program, it’s huge.”
Moore is UCLA’s highest-rated quarterback recruit in the history of the 247Sports rankings and the school’s third-best recruit overall, behind only edge rusher Jaelan Phillips and defensive lineman Eddie Vanderdoes. He is also the highest-rated player Kelly has landed in nine seasons as a college coach.
Since arriving at UCLA, Kelly was known for scattering four-star prospects into a potent mix of lesser-regarded players in need of significant development.
That has changed in significant ways.
Moore’s engagement two days before national contract signing day propelled the Bruins’ 2023 recruit class from 31st to 22nd nationally in 247Sports’ rankings. Moore’s allegiance switch came a day after Oregon quarterback Bo Nix announced he would be returning for the 2023 season and less than a month after his primary recruit with the Ducks, offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham, left to become Arizona State head coach to become.
While Biggins acknowledged that these departures helped drive the turnaround, he also credited Kelly and assistants Ryan Gunderson and Jerry Neuheisel with selling Moore for their vision of what he could do as a Bruin.
“UCLA went to great lengths behind the scenes to get him on campus,” Biggins said, “and then really could only sell him for ZERO opportunities, the offense, the fit, the early season — all of that — it was.” so like a perfect storm to catch him.”
UCLA’s move to the Big Ten Conference in 2024 is another lure, Biggins said, as it allows Moore to play multiple games per season relatively close to his hometown.
At 6ft 2 and 210lbs, Moore combines good size with a strong arm and pinpoint accuracy on short and deep routes. He will join a crowded quarterback room that might feel claustrophobic given the recent signing of Kent State’s Collin Schlee, as well as incumbents Ethan Garbers, Justyn Martin and Chase Griffin. Schlee is considered one of the best transfer quarterbacks in the nation, having completed 59% of his passes for 2,109 yards and 13 touchdowns with five interceptions last season.
Biggins said Moore was the most college-ready of all the top high school quarterbacks and could immediately contend for the starting job. To support his bid, Moore is expected to enroll early and attend spring training.
“In terms of physical tools, Dante is going to be the most talented quarterback in the quarterback space,” Biggins said. “Obviously whether he starts is 100% dependent on how quickly he can adapt to Chip’s playbook and learn offense and that’s about 70% of that these days?”
It’s possible that at least one UCLA quarterback will depart given the arrival of such a highly regarded player. Garbers, the primary backup for the past two seasons, who started a game in 2021 when Thompson-Robinson was injured, has three years left and Martin has four. Martin was a four-star prospect from Inglewood High who, in practice, has impressed with his attitude and decision-making for a freshman.
A four-year starter in high school, Moore led his team to back-to-back state titles while throwing for 9,880 yards and 135 touchdowns with 20 interceptions. Moore was named Associated Press Division 3-4 Player of the Year by a panel of sportswriters from across Michigan.
Among the schools he seriously considered, Moore initially chose Oregon rather than Michigan, his first choice as a home state. Now he won’t take part in any, heading West for something new and totally unexpected.
https://www.latimes.com/sports/ucla/story/2022-12-19/ucla-commitment-dante-moore-highest-rated-quarterback-school-history Dante Moore: UCLA lands commitment from its highest-rated QB ever