Moore, who in 2018 became the first true freshman consensus All-American in Big Ten history, is the latest star to return to his team after the conference announced it will have a fall season. He said on Aug. 6 that he would opt out of the season to begin preparing for the 2021 NFL draft, citing “unprecedented circumstances” surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.
The Big Ten postponed the fall season on Aug. 11 before announcing on Sept. 16 that a nine-game season would take place with upgraded testing. Moore said the Big Ten’s enhanced safety protocols, especially around daily antigen testing, made him comfortable playing in 2020.
“The Big Ten figured it out. Purdue was doing a great job of keeping us safe, and I felt safe coming back,” Moore told ESPN on Thursday. “For me, it was a no-brainer to come back to school and go prove what I think I’m worth.
“When I decided to leave, I couldn’t get a lot of answers to the questions I was asking. Everyone was unsure. I’m a lot more comfortable than I was before I left.”
Last week, Ohio State cornerback Shaun Wade and guard Wyatt Davis both decided to play after initially opting out. Minnesota wide receiver Rashod Bateman also wants to play this fall and has started practicing with the team, although he needs clearance to compete after hiring an agent.
Although Moore left campus for his home in New Albany, Indiana, after opting out, he remained enrolled in classes at Purdue and didn’t hire an agent. He also kept in contact with coach Jeff Brohm and co-offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach JaMarcus Shephard.
Moore said he will be tested for COVID-19 on Thursday and, if found negative for the virus, will return to practice with the Boilermakers.
“I’ll speak to the team briefly and let them know I can compete, share some of my goals with them,” he said. “They’re a big reason as to why I came back, so I’m excited. I’m a competitor, and I feel like I’m the best receiver in America. The Big Ten’s given me a chance to go show that, and that’s what I’m going to go do.”
Moore had 114 receptions for 1,258 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2018, becoming just the third Big Ten player to eclipse 100 receptions in a season. He had seven 100-yard receiving games and 662 kick return yards and set team records for single-season all-purpose yards (2,215) and single-game all-purpose yards (313). The 5-foot-9, 180-pound Moore was named first-team All-Big Ten both for offense and special teams and won the Paul Hornung Award as the nation’s most versatile player.
He recorded 29 receptions for 387 yards and two touchdowns in four games last year before a hamstring injury sidelined him for the rest of the season.
“We are excited to have Rondale rejoin our team,” Brohm said in a statement. “He is a player of unique talents and character, and everyone knows how much he loves to compete.”
Moore is on track to complete his degree in business in two and a half years. He is taking nine classes for 27 credits in hopes of graduating at the end of the fall semester. ESPN’s Todd McShay rates Moore as the No. 46 prospect in the 2021 NFL draft.
“I came to school with a few goals, and for me, that was to get a degree and have a chance to go play in the NFL. I’m in a position to do both,” said Moore, who has a communications minor and a certificate in entrepreneurship and innovation. “No matter what it was, I knew I had to do it. For me, I see it as a challenge, and I’m going to get it done and hopefully graduate with a GPA over 3.6. That’s the goal.”
Purdue is scheduled to open the season on Oct. 24 at home against Iowa.