One-on-One with TCU's Rhodes Scholar

Caylin Moore

Janitor-turned-TCU football player, and now Rhodes Scholar

Caylin Moore has a list of 20 goals he wants to accomplish. Last fall, he achieved one of them – to become a Rhodes Scholar.

That means Moore, a senior at TCU and safety on the football team, will receive a scholarship to study at Oxford University in the fall. There, he’ll work on two master’s degrees: one in public policy and the other in business administration.

Moore is one of just 32 students across the U.S. selected for the award. He gives credit to God, his mother and TCU.

“The resources are abundant at TCU,” he said. “I love the community.”

It’s almost fitting that someone born where most stars are born – that is, Hollywood (yes, he was born in Hollywood, Calif.) – would grow up to become a star himself. But the path to success for Moore was anything but glamorous.

Moore said he spent most of his childhood in inner-city Los Angeles, surrounded by an environment of drugs, gangs and violence. His parents divorced when he was five, and when Moore was in high school, his father was sent to prison for committing murder (Moore’s father is currently serving a life sentence in a supermax prison in California).

Meanwhile, Moore’s mother battled numerous health issues, including a heart tumor. While recovering in the hospital after open heart surgery, she was raped by one of the hospital workers.

Moore looked to his mother as his source for inspiration. Despite his family’s struggles, Moore says his mother always encouraged him to put education among his top priorities.

“My mom always took academics extremely seriously,” Moore said. “We always focused well in school.”

Near the end of high school, Moore received an offer to play football at Marist College in New York. He accepted, joining the team as a quarterback. While there, he’d take several jobs, even spending one semester as a janitor to help pay for school.

Looking back, Moore says he doesn’t remember having a “most difficult moment.” He just never looked at it that way.

“I just see it as God’s trials and testing, His taking me through something for a reason – what is it that I’m supposed to learn from this situation? How am I going to grow from this?” Moore said. “I try to approach every situation, no matter what it is – whether it be death, whether it be poverty or injury or whatever it is – I try to approach it with the exact same mindset.”

After spending three years at Marist, Moore decided to transfer “to get the most out of myself as an athlete,” he said. He can’t quite pinpoint the first time he’d heard about TCU, but he does remember following former Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III’s quest for the Heisman Trophy. Moore watched Griffin and Baylor edge TCU in a close 50-48 game in 2011, but seeing TCU come back from a 24-point deficit put the Frogs in Moore’s radar.

When it came time to transfer, following a summer spent at Princeton University studying public policy and international affairs, Moore reached out to TCU and joined the football team as a walk-on in 2012. He switched positions, too, moving from quarterback to safety.

While he hasn’t spent much time on the field, he has set his focus on academics. He is majoring in economics with a double minor in mathematics and sociology. Some of his favorite classes have included Intermediate Macroeconomics and Econometrics, which he explains as “statistical regression analysis infused with economics.” He holds a 3.9 GPA.

He also started his own youth outreach program at TCU known as S.P.A.R.K., which stands for “Strong Players Are Reaching Kids.” S.P.A.R.K. sends student athletes into the community to encourage students to continue their education.

Moore has big dreams for S.P.A.R.K., hoping to one day turn it into a larger nonprofit organization reaching schools across the country. He also sees himself working on educational policy.

As for everything else on his list of “20 things,” Moore said he wants to “leave people in suspense” to see where he ends up next.

His advice to young people? “Be unrealistic, because being realistic is the most commonly traveled road to being mediocre,” Moore said. “I was unrealistic. That’s why I’m here.”