By Jean DePlacido
---- — Many outstanding schools made offers to Alex Moore. What the St. John’s Prep football standout had a hard time deciding was exactly where he wanted to spend his next four years.
This past weekend, however, the Boxford native made his choice, committing to the University of Pennsylvania.
The St. John’s Prep captain and Catholic Conference all-star made calls to Harvard, Brown, Columbia, Colgate, Lafayette and Dartmouth to say he wouldn’t be accepting their offers. Instead, he’ll suit up for the defending Ivy League champs starting this fall. The Quakers plan to use him on defense.
“A lot of great schools were nice enough to give me offers,” said Moore, an outstanding two-way player who had 19 touchdowns and 114 points for the Division 1 Super Bowl champion Eagles last season. “I wanted to look at all the pros and cons before making my decision. It all came down to what I felt was the best fit for me, both athletically and academically.
Last season at St. John’s, Moore gained 842 yards rushing with 13 touchdowns and averaged 7.6 yards per carry. He also had a team-high 20 catches for 455 yards and 5 TD receptions. On defense he had four interceptions and four forced fumbles. An electric player with blinding speed, Moore made game changing plays in several games for the Super Bowl champs.
The reigning Massachusetts Gatorade Player of the Year, the 6-foot, 195-pound Moore narrowed his choices down to Dartmouth (where SJP teammate and close friend Lucas Bavaro is headed) and Penn.
“I made my official visit to Dartmouth a week ago, and they made the biggest push. It was a hard choice because I’ve been with Lucas all the way from elementary, middle school and high school,” said Moore. “It would’ve been nice to keep it going in college because we’ve been playing for so long we instinctively know where (the other) will be on the field.”
Moore went for his official visit to Penn the weekend of Jan. 14, and after making the two trips he felt it was time to make a final decision.
“I had wanted to do it a bit quicker, but my Dad helped me through the whole process,” said Moore, who is now getting ready for the Prep’s ucoming baseball season where he plays center field. “He helped me see all the cards on the table.
“Penn was actually the first school to offer me. They came in very early last summer, and there was a question of loyalty there. I knew they really wanted me and saw something in me before my senior season. I love the culture at Penn, too; it’s a pretty sweet school right in the heart of Philly, and I like the idea of being in a city. The football program has been pretty successful over the years, which is nice.”
The Quakers bested Cornell, 35-28, to win the Ivy League title outright last fall, marking their third championship in the last four years and ninth for veteran coach Al Bagnoli.
Football, however, was not the only element in Moore’s decision. He was accepted into the Wharton School of Business, which has earned a reputation as one of the very best in the country.
“Alex had his pick of every Ivy school on his list along with several others,” said Prep football coach/athletic director Jim O’Leary. “Colgate, Holy Cross and Penn State came in to talk to him as well as Penn, Dartmouth and Brown. He could play at a higher level, but it’s awfully hard to turn down the Wharton School of Business. Once that likely acceptance letter came, I think his mind was made up.”
Owner of a 4.0 grade point average who scored 1860 on his SATs, Moore is getting a very good financial aid package from Penn; he could also be eligible to receive academic help based on how well he does in his classes.
“This is a big signing for Penn because Alex is a terrific player and a great kid,” said O’Leary. “They’re looking at him on defense at safety, and he can slide down to free safety. They could also slip him over to the offensive side of the ball if needed. He’s so versatile he can help out in several positions, and he’ll have a great career there.
“Ever since he went to the Penn football camp last June I think he’s always been leaning toward going there.”