From the gridiron to the ring

Published 5:53 pm Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Former NSA standout has sights set on WWE after football

Story by Matthew Hatfield
Photos courtesy of Hampton University

Former Nansemond-Suffolk Academy standout KeShaun Moore has made local and statewide headlines in the past for his play on the gridiron. Now, the 6-foot-3, 240-pound redshirt senior linebacker with Hampton University is receiving national acclaim for a different reason.

Moore , the son of Karrie Cox of Suffolk and Darin Moore of Portsmouth, was recently named among 15 college athletes in World Wrestling Entertainment’s second “Next in Line,” name, image and likeness (NIL) class. It was launched in December as a developmental program for the pro wrestling league with athletes getting access to the WWE’s performance center in Florida, branding and public relations help, among other perks.

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He was initially contacted through a direct message on Instagram from their recruiting page and ultimately chosen as the WWE’s first NIL signee from a Historically Black Colleges and Universities program.

“At first, I was skeptical of it because I never would’ve thought in a million years I would have a DM like that,” Moore revealed. “I was on the phone with them for a few weeks, started to gain their trust and it went from there. I haven’t been used to this type of attention, so it’s definitely exciting for me.”

Thus far, there have been 31 athletes in the program with six that have graduated. When athletes complete the program, they have a chance to be offered a WWE contract that can be as lucrative up to $250,000 a year.

“I never thought I would be a part of the WWE. This can lead to other opportunities that support my future dreams of gaining exposure for the NFL and pursuing my goals for life after collegiate athletics,” remarked Moore, who earned Second Team All-Big South honors a season ago with the Pirates with 48 total tackles, 13.5 for loss and 7.5 quarterback sacks.

“I think this shows other HBCU athletes that they can have an opportunity to be a part of big organizations in terms of getting an NIL deal. I think it’ll bring a lot of attention not only to the football program, but the school and everything it has to offer here at Hampton.”

Those who have gotten to be around Moore see him as a natural to make the transition from the football field to the wrestling ring.

“It’s a perfect opportunity for a kid that’s going to flourish in that industry,” said NSA head football coach Mike Biehl. “His personality, work ethic and overall makeup will make that a perfect fit for him. I know he said that’s not the route he envisioned going down, but when you take a step back and think about it, he’s the perfect person to make a run in that industry,”

“In terms of what he meant for our program, he’s one of the most impactful players I’ve ever been around. That’s because of the way he practiced, how influential he was with the other players on our team, and then obviously he’s a physical presence on the football team. I think what sets him apart and allow him to be successful in that industry just like he has been on the football field is he’s so unafraid to work as hard as he possibly can, and he loves the process. He literally loves going in and putting the work in, which will serve him really well forever.”

Moore remembers his time with the Saints fondly and playing a vital part in his growth.

“My football experience at NSA was definitely eye-opening and amazing. I won state’s my junior year and still talk to the guys who were on that team with me,” Moore recalled.

“Growing up, I got to meet all different types of people, environments and living in three different cities across the ‘757’ helped me become personable. Every city has its own unique culture. Playing football helps out a lot because it’s one of the main things talked about in the area. That helped get my name out there and gave me a chance to meet a lot of different people that I maybe never would’ve met.”

Following his days at NSA, Moore went on to James Madison University and Lackawanna College before getting to Hampton. In May, he graduated with a degree in liberal studies, making the Dean’s List and Honor Society. He plans to pursue a business marketing degree.

“I take academics a lot more seriously now than when I did in High School. My mom talked about how I worked super hard on the field and didn’t apply myself in the classroom. I take pride in it because I don’t want to have bad grades, lingering the line and want to go above and beyond. Now my academics in the classroom match my work ethic on the field.”

Soon, it’ll be between the ropes, too.