Dante Moore is standing in his dad’s living room, a football scooped under his right arm and eyes unbroken from the TV.
Braxton Miller has his full attention.
The ball hangs in the air at Ohio Stadium, landing in the lap of Devin Smith. Ohio State 33, Wisconsin 29. A game-winning Hail Mary pass from one of Moore’s icons.
The next week, Moore watches again as Miller runs for an explosive 81-yard touchdown against Indiana, a clinic in using burst, speed, vision and subtle cutbacks to haul his way down the field.
As a 9-year-old in 2015, Moore gushes at Miller as he watches “The Spin” during Ohio State's season opener at Virginia Tech.
Now it’s Moore’s turn. So he does what a lot of us did as kids. He reenacts the plays before him.
“I used to be in my living room watching him and just start practicing what he was doing in the games,” says Moore, who years later is now a 15-year-old blue-chip quarterback prospect himself. “I didn’t move the couches or anything like that. But me just being there by myself I used to just move and act like there were defenders in front of me, just doing whatever he did. I wasn’t the type of kid to jump on the couches and stuff, but I imagined it in my head and doing it right in front of the TV.”
Miller was Moore’s favorite football player as a kid growing up in Elyria, Ohio, and that fanhood continued when he moved to Detroit during Miller’s core Buckeye seasons. Those two factors turned Moore into a scarlet and gray fan.
“Being from Cleveland, of course, you’ve gotta grow up as a fan of the school right by you,” Moore said. “I grew up an Ohio State fan, of course. But like I always say, when the recruiting process hit in high school and eighth grade, seventh grade, it was just like everything starts to go away. I can’t favor no school like that when I’m trying to choose a school. But like I said, I did grow up loving Ohio State.”
Moore knows Miller’s “whole background,” would play exclusively with Miller on the NCAA Football video games and drew some inspiration from the former Heisman finalist.
“As a quarterback, you’re not always gonna stand in the pocket and throw the ball pretty,” Moore said. “You’ve gotta have some movement. When I watched the games and looked at him, him being a playmaker was incredible. Him being able to run and use his legs and throw the ball around is crazy.
“Whenever Urban Meyer called a play, he would get it done. He’s really just a playmaker. Just having heart is another thing I take from him. Him hurting himself and coming back and just being different is what I really got from him.”
Ironically enough, the similarities are there in stature and Ohioan roots for Moore (a 6-foot-2, 195-pound Cleveland native) and Miller (a 6-foot-2, 185-pounder when he came out of Dayton’s Wayne High School). And there’s even the parallels in recruiting profiles with the five-star Moore (No. 15 overall, No. 3 pro-style QB and No. 1 in his state of Michigan) and former five-star Miller (No. 29 overall, No. 2 dual-threat QB and No. 1 in Ohio in the 2011 class) being noticeably close in their rankings.
This, however, is not a story detailing America’s next Braxton Miller. The two are different players, and it’s not a one-to-one comparison.
Miller lived outside of the pocket and in the run game as a quicker and faster athlete en route to those explosive plays in The Shoe. Moore can do some good work on the move on the perimeter, but he kills defenses more with his arm and his footwork inside the pocket. Like when he threw for more than 2,700 yards and 33 touchdowns as a freshman while leading his Martin Luther King Jr. (Michigan) High School team to a state runner-up finish. Or the 1,700-plus yards and a 30:3 touchdown-to-interception ratio he accrued in just 10 games last season.
Those two campaigns led to his status as a five-star prospect in the 2023 class and a growth in which he shows a powerful arm backed by a quick release that looks effortless. And he displays his footwork in a different way. He can run and make guys miss in the open field. But it’s more the subtle movements and keeping his feet moving and active in the pocket that allow him to avoid the pass rush. It’s made him one of the more dangerous playmakers and best young quarterbacks in America.
We often attribute a basketball background to providing spatial awareness and athleticism for a quarterback. And we hit on baseball being a contributor in the ability to throw off-platform and from different arm angles – two must-haves in a modern quarterback.
But a secret for Moore came by the avenue of another sport.
“I’m more of a soccer guy,” Moore said. “At my old school, I played soccer in elementary and middle school. I learned how to play, and I fell in love with soccer when I was over there. I’m a football and soccer guy.
“With soccer, it was quick-twitch stuff. You being on a breakaway with the other guy competing for the ball, just getting that separation between you and him. Footwork is the main thing in soccer, getting that right, and with anything it’s helping you in any sport.”
All of those skill sets have led to Moore becoming a sought-after signal caller in his class, racking up nearly two dozen offers thus far, including Arizona State, Auburn, Michigan, Notre Dame, Oregon and Penn State.
He has not yet been extended an offer from Ohio State, and the Buckeye coaches have yet to get in communication with him. They have offered just one quarterback in the 2023 class (five-star Californian Malachi Nelson) as they continue their penchant for not offering quarterbacks until they can evaluate them in person like Mike Yurcich did with Nelson in 2019.
Moore, who earned an invite to the Under Armour Future 50 camp after his performance at the UA Camp Series in Ohio two weeks ago, is hoping to camp at Ohio State this summer and be seen by Ryan Day and Corey Dennis on-campus. In order to earn sincere interest and an offer from the Buckeyes, he knows precisely where he wants to improve. In fact, he’s using Miller’s modus operandi – and an NFL legend – as the framework for his own game to make it more well-rounded.
“First off, being explosive. Making plays out of the pocket and being more efficient and explosive running-wise,” Moore said. “You know, you don’t wanna just kill the defense with your arm. You wanna kill them with your legs too. So working on that with the run game.
“The next thing is mastering defense. Tom Brady, he masters defenses. That’s why he’s one of the best. That’s the main thing is mastering defenses and working on my lower legs to make me even more vicious against my opponents.”
He has a long way to go in his development, but Moore has a bright future ahead of him at the sport’s most glamorous position.
Keep grinding away, and maybe kids will be impersonating his plays in living rooms someday.