Caylin Moore says he shouldn't be in Fort Worth. Considering where he grew up, his future seemed to be predetermined.
“Prison, dead, on the street selling drugs,” he says.
Instead, Moore’s life followed a different path, from a college quarterback, to Fulbright scholar, to janitor and now a member of the TCU football team.
His story is one of perseverance.
He grew up in Carson, California, which borders Compton. Moore grew up with a single mom and two siblings after his parents divorced when he was in first grade.
At one point, they lived in a trailer, Moore says.
“I remember us going to a really nice house to only having watermelon for one week straight,” he says. “We were, for a lack of a better term, homeless.”
When they moved to the inner-city, things didn’t get much better.
“We had one room to our name,” Moore says. “So it would be my mom, my brother, my sister and myself sharing one bed.”
How did Moore go from a trailer in California to a safety at a top 10 college football program?
“It’s just such a blessing to play. I just love it, something about it.”
“Instead of asking God, ‘Why me, why me?’ I started asking God, ‘Why not me?’”
And his mom.
“You think I’m special,” Moore says. “Wait until you hear her speak. She’s not just a survivor. She’s a victor.”
Caylin Moore’s mother, Calynn J. Taylor Moore, has also had a tough time. As a survivor of domestic abuse and sexual assault, she didn’t let the past affect her son.
“The sky is the limit for Caylin Louis Moore,” she says. “My goal for him is to make the world a better place than the one he inherited.”
In high school in California, Moore built a reputation as an all-conference quarterback and a diligent student.
That led to a scholarship at Marist College in New York.
Because of his good grades, a Marist professor encouraged him to apply for a Fulbright scholarship.
He remembers approaching a woman to get the application.
“The lady looked at me and she said ‘Oh, what’s your name?’ and I was like, ‘Caylin Moore.’
“She looked at the paper and she said … ‘Oh, we thought you were a white girl.’ Once she said that I said, ‘Oh, I’m about to kill this application; they don’t believe it.”
He earned a Fulbright scholarship with the program’s Summer Institute and studied the trans-Atlantic slave trade at the University of Bristol in England.
When he returned to the Marist football field that fall, Moore injured his back. Since he couldn’t play, he took a job as a janitor to make extra money.
“It was humbling,” he says, “to have the same people that praised you now look at you and say, ‘Oh, you’re the janitor.’”
Moore put as much into sweeping floors at work as he did diagramming plays on the football field.
“So I just told myself I’m going to be the best janitor there is,” he says. “If anybody is going to come past this spot, they’re going to know Caylin Moore will have been there. Because it’s be spotless.”
On the field, Moore had a dream: to play for a national football powerhouse on TV.
The reason he tried so hard to get to a top program is his dad’s in prison for life. That’s the only way he could watch Moore play.
“I told myself I’m not going to stop playing football until my dad sees me on TV from his prison cell,” Moore says.
So he started looking to play at another school.
Moore researched the top football programs and chose TCU.
After receiving his acceptance to the university and talking with coaches, he started taking classes last fall.
That’s when he joined the Horned Frogs as a safety.
Coleman Maxwell, an assistant life coach and chaplain at TCU, has gotten to know Moore. Maxwell says faith plays a big role in his life.
“I am a big fan of him realizing that God has given him a specific story,” Maxwell says. “He would rather not be in the spotlight; he would rather not tell his story. But because he’s starting to realize how important it is, he’s beginning to tell his story.”
Last season, Moore sat on the bench for the team that won the Alamo Bowl.
Now he’s about to enter his senior year on a campus where most students are a lot more financially secure.
That doesn’t concern him.
“I feel like I have an advantage, because I’ve learned to do so many things without that,” Moore says.
He says he doesn't feel jealous of his peers who grew up in more secure backgrounds.
At the end of the day they’re all Horned Frogs.
“If I got here without all that, and you got here with all that, then what does that really say?” Moore says. “All of that really doesn’t matter as much as we think it does.”