COLUMBIA, S.C. — Chris Moody has been out the door, then back in it. He has been a safety. He has been a linebacker. He has been a safety again.
And that’s just the past six months for the South Carolina senior.
“It’s a joke that I’m ‘the mercenary,’” Moody said. “I just play wherever I’m needed. It’s fine.”
It looked like Moody would be playing somewhere else entirely when last season drew to a close. He participated in senior day as a redshirt junior with plans to play his fifth year elsewhere.
The 6-foot-1, 220-pound safety saw a drastic change in playing time. He played primarily on special teams in 2015 after starting seven games at safety in 2014. Off the field, Moody was graduating, which would allow him to play his fifth year as a graduate transfer.
“I’ve been here a long time since I was 17,” he said. “I thought it would be an option to explore.”
Moody looked into options in his home state, Georgia, junior safety D.J. Smith said. But as nothing opened up, Moody realized he would be playing for a new staff if he stayed at South Carolina anyway.
“I was going to have to do the same thing,” Moody said. “I had already been here. My teammates welcomed me back, so it wasn’t too bad to come back.”
It’s a good thing for the Gamecocks that he returned. Coach Will Muschamp called on Moody to move to linebacker when USC’s depth took a hit. Moody said he was fine with making the move for the team, as his focus rests on winning.
That desire came into play again when Muschamp moved Moody to safety again after starter Chaz Elder went down with a rib injury against Mississippi State.
“I think Chris is extremely bright,” Muschamp said. “Really, really smart. Has a high football IQ and it’s about putting him in the right spots. … He’s a guy who’s smart enough, he knew, I knew, we could put him in a different spot and he learned it quickly, and certainly was going to contribute a lot at linebacker. Obviously now with some injuries at safety, we’ve moved him back to safety. He’s a quick learner, he understands things, he catches onto things really quick, and I thought, again, he did some really nice things.”
Moody started against East Carolina last Saturday as part of Muschamp’s rotation at safety. He was one of five to play in the game, which should be the case against Kentucky on Saturday (7:30 p.m. ET, SEC Network).
Admittedly, last week he was tired after making the move back to the secondary. But he was proud he didn’t make many mistakes in his first time playing the position in almost a year.
It has been hectic, Moody said, between leaving but not really leaving and making position changes. But he says he is just happy to be playing football no matter where he is on the field.
“I’m proud of Moody,” Smith said. “He was thinking about stopping. We talked him into coming back. I think it was a good decision that he came back. He is one of my dogs. So I am happy for him. He is getting a lot of playing time. He is playing well. I want him to keep it up and to keep encouraging us and keep being the leader he is.”