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Is KeShaun Moore headed from the trenches of Hampton University’s Armstrong Stadium to the bright lights of Wrestlemania?
Given his druthers, Moore, an NFL prospect entering his graduate senior season with the Pirates, would prefer joining role models Aaron Donald and Nick Bosa in sacking quarterbacks to slamming Brock Lesner in the WWE’s premier event.
But if professional football does not pan out for Moore, pro wrestling has become a viable option. World Wrestling Entertainment announced Monday morning that Moore — a former standout for King’s Fork High in Suffolk — is one of 15 Division I athletes selected to its Name, Image and Likeness program “Next In Line.”
Moore, an outside linebacker, is the first athlete from a historically Black university of the 31 the WWE has signed to its NIL program since its December launch. The WWE touts Next In Line as “a clear pathway from collegiate athletics to the WWE,” and added that six graduates of the program have signed WWE contracts or are currently in discussions.
The NCAA ruled last year that college athletes could profit from their name, image and likeness.
Pirates head football coach Robert Prunty feels Moore’s NIL inclusion with the WWE is a breakthrough for Hampton University. Moore, who earned his HU degree last month, has one more season of eligibility.
“I think it’s great KeShaun was picked for this program and I wish every athlete in every sport at Hampton University could get an NIL deal,” he said. “I think these athletes should be compensated for their abilities on field.
“I’ve always been an advocate of (collegiate) athletes being compensated. I hope KeShaun’s deal opens the door for many of our other athletes.”
The WWE announcement did not refer to dollar amounts, but mentioned that “athlete partnerships will feature access to the state-of-the-art WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida, in addition to resources across the organization including brand building, media training, communications, live event promotion, creative writing and community relations.”
Prunty thinks Moore would be a comfortable fit in a WWE ring.
“He is the strongest guy on our team, benching more than 450 pounds and squatting more than 650,” he said. “He told me he’s been a big fan of the WWE since he was a little kid, and that if the NFL doesn’t work out, he’d like to wrestle for them.
“He’s built like one of the WWE wrestlers and looks like them. Along with his strength and physique, he has an impressive beard.”
He also cuts an impressive figure on the football field. Moore, 6-foot-3 and 270 pounds, led the Pirates with 13 tackles for loss and 7½ sacks and was their only player named to the All-Big South defense.
“KeShaun is a very physical player, but at the same time he’s very cerebral,” Prunty said. “He plays full speed on every play and his motor never shuts down.
“He’s very versatile, too, and can stand up at linebacker or put his hand in the dirt and on the defensive line. He has the talent to play in the NFL.”
The WWE announcement caps a big month for Moore. He struggled in the classroom when he was younger, but maintained a 3.0-grade point average at Hampton, graduated in May with a degree in liberal studies and plans to pursue a business marketing degree.
“I’m proud of making the Dean’s List and Honor Society after not performing well in the classroom early on,” Moore told the NFL Draft Diamonds website. “I can now say that I’m a college graduate with a bachelor’s degree.”