Saskatchewan·Q&A

Roughriders Kyran Moore proving heart is greater than height

The youngest member of the Saskatchewan Roughriders is proving heart can be greater than height.

At 22, Moore is the youngest player on the Roughriders

Saskatchewan Roughriders wide receiver Kyran Moore electrified the crowd with his second punt return touchdown in three weeks. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Taylor)
Receiver Kyran Moore has been doubted his entire life, but he's proving heart can be greater than height. In this episode, we'll hear about his journey from Bessemer, Ala., and how his big break came in a game he wasn't even supposed to play. 13:32

The youngest member of the Saskatchewan Roughriders is proving heart can be greater than height.

Roughriders receiver Kyran Moore just celebrated his 22nd birthday. On top of being the youngest player on the team, Moore is also the shortest receiver.

Moore's height is something that had many football scouts doubting him throughout his life. CFL scouts and fans shouldn't be doubting him now after seeing some highlight reel touchdowns in his first six professional games.

To found out more about the man they call "Swerve," CBC's Peter Mills asked Kyran Moore about his journey to this point:

Saskatchewan Roughriders receiver Kyran Moore at practice on Oct. 4, 2018. (Peter Mills/CBC)

All I heard at practice was "Swerve!" Everybody was yelling your nickname all day. Are you feeling at home?

I definitely feel at home, feel loved, man.

How do you like this weather?

[Groans] See I'm from Alabama so it don't get that cold, especially not this early. But it's better than what I thought though. It's not too bad.

How many experiences have you had with snow?

I've had a couple but every time I've had an experience with snow I was done with football [laughs].

You didn't have to play in it?

No, never, never. Not even close.

As you mentioned, you grew up in Bessemer, Alabama. Tell me about it.

It was real good. I was actually born in California and then I moved to Alabama when I was like four. When I moved to Bessemer, that is where I met a whole lot of my childhood friends. Good city, family-oriented.

You've obviously had some positive influences in your life. Tell me about your uncle Kirwin.

My uncle he died in 2009. I was going into the ninth grade. My mom used to drop us off over at [his] house. We used to go outside and my uncle used to throw the football around with me. He really taught me how to play football. He was very inspiring growing up.

What was it about him that inspired you to keep playing?

It was really just because he taught me how to play. Since he's gone, I might as well just keep on playing and just add to my game. I've been very good at football at a young age. I knew that he would want me to keep playing.

How do you think he'd feel seeing you play here in Saskatchewan?

Oh man, it would have been crazy, unbelievable actually because he used to be at all my games. It's crazy because he wasn't that much older than me, but he was more like a big brother than an uncle.

How important was your grandma to you?

She was everything. My grandma and my mom, they everything to me. When I lost my grandma last year during the [college football] season, it just took a big part out of me. But I just know I have to be there for my mom. Even though she tried to be strong in front of me, I just know that know that she's still battling internal issues.

How did you keep going after your grandma passed away?

I just added on extra motivation. I know that her as well as her son — my uncle — would want me to be doing good. I also promised my mom that I was going to take her shoe shopping in Italy, so that's another big motivation and a big part of why I keep playing.

Tell me about that shoe-shopping promise.

That was my freshman year in college and she just sent me a text out of nowhere and was like, "You're no longer broke. I put money in your account."

I was just like, "Thank you, mom" and she was like, "It's cool, I just want you to take me shoe shopping in Italy when it's all said and done." So I just wrote it on my wallpaper and everyday I wake up and see, "Take mom shoe shopping in Italy."

Are you going to get there soon?

Oh yeah, very soon.

You also told the Piffles Podcast earlier this year that your mom sends you motivational text messages everyday. What's it like to be away from her?

It's tough. The only reason why I'm comfortable now is because I went to school in Tennessee [Austin Peay State University], even though I didn't want to my mom was like, "I feel like this is God's plan: for you to be away from me"

But I gotta make sure I talk to mom everyday and she texts me every morning.

What does she text you?

It will be paragraphs. It will be a long paragraph. Even when I was on the [Roughriders] practice roster, "You're time is coming. Just be patient. Just make sure you're ready when it comes."

When I started playing, she was like, "I'm coming up here in October for your last game and your goal is to be playing when I come." Now since I've been playing and doing well and stuff, she's just like "Keep doing what you're doing."

It wakes me up every morning.

So she's coming down for the final regular season game?

She'll be here October 27.

What's that going to be like for you?

Man, I can't wait. My dad had to get his passport, so she's been telling me, "I'm trying to wait on your dad, but I might have to leave him." [Laughs] But he finally got his passport too so they are all coming down October 27.

Saskatchewan Roughriders' Kyran Moore drags Montreal Alouettes defenders during second half CFL action in Montreal on Sunday, Sept. 30, 2018. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Peter McCabe)

You got the game ball last game. Who are you going to give it to?

I'm going to give the game ball to my mom and then the ball that I scored a touchdown with I'm giving to my brother because it was his birthday.

So how does a guy from Bessemer, Alabama end up in Regina, Saskatchewan?

We actually had a game that wasn't on the schedule. We played UCF [University of Central Florida]. They had a hurricane so they had to abandon one game and we were going on a bye week. So they hit up my coach and was like, "Would you y'all like to play us for the bye week?"

Coach came in and asked the team and there was no hesitation. They were undefeated, doing very well, a bigger school and all of that. I had 363 all-purpose yards against them. A scout from Saskatchewan was there and he hit me up.

I went to a tryout, coach [Chris] Jones loved me and that's how I ended up here. Actually, after the tryout [Jones] was like, "I know that you're getting ready for your pro day ... but I'm going to be honest, a lot of teams are probably going to overlook you because of your size and I think that you would kill it in the [CFL]."

You've tweeted a lot about people doubting you. Is that something you've had to deal with a lot in your life?

All throughout my whole life. In college, I had a lot of recruiters looking at me, like big D1 [NCAA Division 1] schools, but they was just like, "You're too small."

Only one school offered me a scholarship. I went there and just did what I had to do to get here.

So how does it feel now when 35,000 people are cheering for you and you've proved all those people wrong?

It feels amazing. It feels like a dream come true. And just for me to be playing in front of that many people, it just made me feel real good. 

Can you see yourself making a career here in Saskatchewan?

Most definitely.

What do you like most about it?

I'd have to say the fans. The fans are amazing, like unbelievable. 

How surprised were you?

Very because I've never played in front of this many people and [here] it's like sold out game, sold out game, sold out game. So I was like, "Let's put on a show for them."

They come in while it's cold, while it's hot, it doesn't matter they're here so might as well give them a show to see.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

The Roughriders (9-5) take on Edmonton (7-7) in Regina on Monday, Oct. 8. Kickoff is at 2 p.m. CST.


MORE ROUGHRIDERS FEATURES:

About the Author

Peter Mills is an associate producer at CBC Saskatchewan and the host of the Meet The Riders podcast. Follow him on Twitter @TweeterMillsCBC. Do you have a story idea? Email peter.mills@cbc.ca.

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