Ian Moore is uncomfortable being the center of attention.
After New Palestine High School football games, kids run up to the 2024 offensive lineman anyway, knowing who he is and what he’s about to become, wanting a picture with him.
“He’s like, ‘Dad, what do I do?’ ” Terry Moore, Ian’s father, said. “I’m like, ‘Well, you live it.’
“‘This is going to be your life for a while.’”
For Ian Moore, a 6-foot-6, 295-pound offensive lineman, this is his reality, especially since committing to Ohio State football and joining the Buckeyes’ 2024 class along with five-star quarterback Dylan Raiola.
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But it was a reality that Moore very nearly didn’t allow to come to fruition.
One week into high school football, Moore told his parents he didn’t want to play anymore.
Growing up in Rossville, Indiana, a city with a significant German Baptist influence, Moore watched football every weekend and played it during recess, but wasn’t part of an organized team until middle school.
Once Moore began high school football at Carroll High School in Flora, Indiana, he officially began to follow in the footsteps of his father, who played at Indiana State. His grandfather and his great-grandfather both played the sport as well.
Football may have been in his blood, but Moore wasn’t enjoying himself.
“I was a backup, honestly, and I had never been a backup in my life,” Moore said. “I hadn’t had to face adversity yet. It was hard. I just didn’t see the benefit of going to practice every day, two hours a day just to sit on the sidelines. But I was a freshman, I was naive. I thought just because I was big and mean that I’d get to start immediately.”
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Terry Moore just wanted his son to be happy, even if it meant him abandoning the game. Terry just had one requirement.
“I said, ‘Hey, you’ve already started practice,’ ” Terry Moore said. “ ‘I don’t care if you don’t ever play again. That never bothers us. However, you already started. We agreed that because you already started … you can’t quit.’ ”
Ian Moore stuck it out, and his opportunity eventually came. He seized a starting spot on Carroll’s varsity offensive line and blossomed into a freshman All-American.
Moore bought in, seeing what his father saw in football and finding that love for himself.
But, after transferring from Carroll to New Palestine High School as the result of a family move, he soon found that his work had only begun.
Kyle Ralph saw potential from the moment he first saw Moore.
The New Palestine High School football coach remembers watching him for the first time on the basketball court, seeing the right combination of size and mobility for his offensive line.
But Moore was not close to a finished product.
Moore was raw and “extremely deficient for someone his size,” Ralph remembered. He was behind, especially when it came to the weight room.
“I was just this weak big kid,” Moore admitted, coming into New Palestine benching 155 pounds and squatting 250 pounds.
Over the course of a year and a half at New Palestine, steady improvement enabled Moore to increase those numbers by 200 and 260 pounds, respectively.
“He’s a kid that likes to be challenged,” Sherri Moore, Ian’s mother, said. “He likes to see the growth, he likes to see the momentum. I think he saw his body changing, and he liked it. It’s been a lot of hard work, but he’s never shied away from the physicality that New Pal has put in front of him.”
Once Moore developed his strength and got comfortable in New Palestine’s system, Ralph began to create plays centered around the offensive lineman’s blocking ability, whether it was at the second level against linebackers on counter plays or lock trap kick-out blocks to create more space for the running backs.
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Moore’s strength and technique started to get the attention of college coaches from across the country, making the dream of playing for a Division I college increasingly plausible.
Terry Moore never saw that coming.
He saw the way Ian’s body changed over the course of a year-and-a-half but never expected the offers to come pouring in like they did. He received attention from Florida State, Tennessee, Penn State, Michigan State and Wisconsin, schools Ian’s father said he grew up watching.
“Literally, we just went from a kid who a year and a half ago wanted to quit and never play again, to this kid,” Terry Moore said.
Justin Frye had a different recruiting approach than many other coaches had with Ian Moore.
The Ohio State offensive line coach and Indiana native had an idea of what Moore needed.
“He wasn’t selling anything, honestly,” Moore said. “Most of these coaches, they’re like salesmen. They want to get you to buy into something that you don’t want to buy into. And he didn’t treat it like that. He treated me like a normal kid. He didn’t treat me like an athlete. It was great talking to him because you know who’s genuine and who’s not genuine.”
That’s what sold Moore and his family on Ohio State, a program that wasn’t even on their radar coming into the recruiting process.
Whether it was on Moore’s visits to Columbus over the summer, camping and working with Frye and touring the facilities, or his game-day visits when Ohio State took on Notre Dame and Wisconsin, he saw a program that checked all of his boxes.
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“He doesn’t want to sit there and sell you on a bunch of the recruiting BS and fluff,” Ralph said of Frye’s recruiting approach. “He’s recruiting you to be an elite-level offensive lineman and be a blocking machine.”
Moore said he chose Ohio State subconsciously, crossing off school after school that he wasn’t attracted to, that he didn’t see himself playing for.
Only one remained.
“(My father) goes, ‘So you’re going to Ohio State?’ ” Moore recalled. “And I took a moment. I was like, ‘I guess so.’ ”
The day after Moore committed to Ohio State, he said he had a rough game.
New Palestine opened the state playoffs with a 35-24 win against Mt. Vernon, but Moore saw a lot of things he hadn’t seen before from an opposing defense, leading to an off night.
Before he announced his commitment, Ralph, a former three-star offensive lineman out of St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati who played at North Carolina, made sure Moore knew what was coming after committing to a school like Ohio State.
“I said, ‘Look, at this point when you tie your name to a school like that,’” Ralph said, “‘everybody’s going to expect excellence.’”
Moore knows this. He knows there’s pressure. He knows he’s living every high school football player’s dream.
If anything, he said, it only fuels him to prove that he’s earned the path he’s on.
“You can’t go into it thinking, ‘I’m an Ohio State commit. I’m going to tear up the competition,’ ” Moore said. “You just have to think, ‘I’m going to tear up the competition.’ ”
Ian Moore is uncomfortable being the center of attention.