Without a bid to the 2016 NCAA Tournament, Stefan Moody's career with Ole Miss basketball might have ended on a sour note. But the diminutive firecracker reportedly was receiving some looks from professional football organizations during 2016 NFL Draft week. Moody's agent, Jason Elam, confirmed to ESPN that there was interest from six NFL teams. One rumor names the Bears as an interested party.
It's unclear whether Moody, whose MaxPreps profile shows no trace of football experience, would seriously consider a career on the gridiron. On April 28, NewsWatch Ole Miss quoted Elam as saying "Stef is definitely open to any and all opportunities to continue his career as a professional athlete, including the NFL." Two days later, however, Elam suggested to ESPN that his client remains focused on pursuing an opportunity in the NBA.
Players making the jump from college hardwoods to Sunday gridirons is not uncommon, of course, and a handful of those cases have gone on to very successful careers in the NFL. Former Rebel hoopman-turned-footballer Jeremy Parnell played one season of football in Oxford, then did a stint on the New Orleans Saints' practice squad, then moved on to Dallas as a starting offensive tackle, before finally landing a five-year, $35 million deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars last year. In 2016's own draft class, Baylor's Rico Gathers -- who played strong forward for the Bears -- was picked in the sixth round by the Dallas Cowboys.
Moody's case is quite different from Parnell's and Gathers' cases, though. Whereas Gathers -- and Parnell before him -- does carry some football experience to Dallas, there's no evidence that Moody has played a down of organized football in his life. Gathers' size (6'6, 273 lbs.) places him right among the average for NFL tight ends -- his likely position as a pro -- while Moody's frame (he's listed at a generous 5'10, 179 lbs.) is dwarfed by every NFL position group, save for kickers and punters.
There's a good argument for college basketballers to test the NFL waters. Andy Hutchins at SB Nation says as much regarding Gathers, whose production at Baylor probably wouldn't merit any serious consideration from NBA clubs. Simply put, there are more available job openings in the NFL during any given draft than there are in the NBA, especially after the NFL Draft's expansion. Despite leading the SEC in scoring as a senior, Moody did not receive an invite to the NBA Combine and his pro hoops future is dubious.
"I don't think he'll be drafted [by an NBA team]," SB Nation college hoops expert Ricky O'Donnell told us. "He's an undersized volume scorer and there's only so many of those guys who get a chance in the league. He was obviously a great college scorer and there's always a market for those guys to make nice money overseas.
"He could also work his way up from the D-league. You never know. He can shoot, but he seems like he takes more off the table than what he brings to it, from an NBA perspective."
Of course, it's even less likely that he could catch on in the NFL. His skillset, agility, hands and ability to absorb contact could feasibly see him in NFL backfields, where running, catching, cutting and contact are the orders of the day. But that's still asking a lot of a guy who has devoted his entire life to the study and perfection of basketball. In fact, Moody would better help any NBA team's perimeter cohort than any NFL team's backs platoon, because he's an albeit slight of stature, lights-out shooter. And in a league and a sport that includes Stephen Curry, it'd be unsurprising to see a number of sharpshooters picked early in this summer's NBA draft.
However intriguing and novel the thought of Stefan Moody ranging through the Bears' backfield may be, it's likely a pipe dream. Stef doesn't seem to want it, and the Bears may or may not know this yet, but they don't want it either. Moody was born to blast up and down the hardwood, and hopefully he continues to do so in the NBA.