Courtesy of David Schamis

As the Yale football team’s “bridge,” Hamilton Moore ’24 has diligently worked through the COVID-19 pandemic to be where he is now as the team’s middle linebacker, leading the pack through communication and facilitating teamwork. 

“Our coach says, ‘If we’re all wrong, then we’re all right,’” Moore said. “So as long as we all know what we are all doing, we’re fine. And I’m the person who is supposed to make sure that we all know what we are doing and that we are doing that together.”

Yale’s defense features Moore as the middle linebacker — a position some refer to as the quarterback of the unit.

While the offense has put up gaudy numbers in recent weeks, the defense has been a driving force in the team’s quest for a title. The Bulldogs have surrendered just 20 points per game, which allowed the team to earn some low-scoring victories before the offense got rolling.

Moore loves his imperative role on the team because of its lack of monotony — “It’s always something new,” he said.

While defensive coordinator, Sean McGowan, is in charge of choosing the playcalls, the team’s versatility grants them plenty of flexibility to take advantage of their instincts. This helps keep any other team “on their toes because they don’t know what we’re gonna do next.”

A prominent part of Moore’s job is ensuring proper communication among team members. One such seemingly unusual but beneficial tactic the team does is tapping their rear end. 

“When anyone gets a call, they need to repeat the call back to me, and if they don’t, they have to tap their butt to show that they heard the call and know what they are doing.”

Preparing for games — and the annual Game against Harvard specifically — is just as mental as it is physical. Players watch films to try to prepare for the given week’s opposing offense, in addition to the work they do against the scout team on the practice fields. 

According to Moore, “a big thing is getting these reps mentally by seeing yourself react to these plays and how the lineman acts through videos. That way, you have practiced this play, and it’s not surprising to you the first time they run that play in the game.”

Physically, Moore trusts his time in the weight room while also ensuring he takes care of his body through specific treatments with physical therapists or using cup suction on his back. He said he has to make sure that his legs feel as fresh as possible before games.

The linebacker is ending his junior year this semester but will be taking next semester off to graduate in May 2024. Moore’s college football career was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, making him doubt that he would ever play again. 

“I didn’t know when I was gonna be back or if I was gonna be back.”

He explained that his COVID-19 years at Yale were extremely difficult. “Football is my life,” he said, explaining that it hurt when he could not play the sport in 2020, as he had done every fall for most of his early adult life. 

“To have it immediately taken away from me made me very grateful for the moments I now have playing football with these guys,” Moore said. “It’s going to come to an end soon whether I want it to or not, so I have to enjoy it for as long as possible.”

Because Moore has to dedicate so much time to the game, he’s had to find an effective way to balance his academics, social life and football. To him, it is all about time management.

“We all have the same 24 hours in a day; it’s just how you choose to manage that time that you do have. I know that football matters to me, so I may not be able to hang out with my friends as much as I want to,” he said. “But because I am able to focus more on football throughout the week, I can put on my best performance on Saturdays. I am happy with that.”

This coming Saturday will be the first time playing at Harvard Stadium for Moore and the rest of his teammates, as the venue hasn’t hosted the Bulldogs since 2016.

“I am very excited for the atmosphere. Tickets sold out, and we’re playing for the Ivy League championship, so it’s a big game for us,” Moore said.

Moore says that the team’s mentality going into the big day in Cambridge is their motto, “DYJ: Do Your Job.” He remarked that if everyone follows this motto, they will come out where they want to be.

Moore will head into his senior season next year and concluded with this thought: “You never know when your last pass is gonna be.”

Moore ranks second in the Bulldogs for tackles and shares the team lead for interceptions, fumble recoveries and defensive touchdowns this season.

Paloma Vigil is the Arts Editor for the Yale Daily News. She previously served as a DEI co-chair and staff reporter for the University and Sports desks. Past coverage includes religious life, Yale College Council, sailing and gymnastics. Originally from Miami, she is a junior in Pauli Murray College majoring in Psychology and Political Science.