HOOVER, Ala. — Since his commitment to Florida last summer, the comparisons haven’t stopped for Jeremiah Moon.
Gators fans and coaches have likened his game and body frame to Jevon Kearse, who was a first team All-American at UF and the 1998 SEC Defensive Player of the Year before his 11-year NFL career with the Philadelphia Eagles and Tennessee Titans.
Kearse was nicknamed “The Freak” at Florida for his rare measurables and physical attributes, which made him a first-round pick and a Pro Bowl selection his first three years in the league.
Moon, a four-star linebacker, has an identical build to Kearse out of high school and a similar skill set. But Moon first heard the Kearse comparison long before he committed to UF.
“The first person to compare me to Jevon Kearse was him,” Moon said.
In the summer of 2013, Moon was a 6-foot-3, 195-pounder about to head into his sophomore season. He attended a 7-on-7 camp in Georgia, and Kearse happened to be in attendance.
“He picked me out of everybody there,” Moon said. “He pulled me to the side and was like, ‘You remind me exactly of me when I was in high school. I looked just like you.’ He told me I would grow into the player he became. What’s funny is I didn’t even know who he was.”
Moon looked Kearse up when he got home and realized the caliber of player he had met.
“I watched his film and I was like, ‘Wow.’ He was amazing,” Moon said.
Moon will report to Florida next month at 6-foot-4, 216 pounds, the exact height and weight Kearse started his college career at.
He came to UF as a safety but moved to outside linebacker after his first practice. Three years later at the NFL combine, Kearse weighed 262 pounds and grew into a defensive end.
He also posted a 86-inch wingspan and 37-inch vertical jump. Moon currently has an 85-inch wingspan and a 36-inch vert.
Based on his doctor’s estimates and his family history, Moon expects to put on about 40 pounds over the next few years, just as Kearse predicted.
“That’s something I’ll always remember,” Moon said. “At the time, I only had one offer. It was crazy, especially because now I’m going to Florida.”
Zach Abolverdi is the Florida beat writer for SEC Country and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow @ZachAbolverdi