UCLA quarterback Dante Moore is entering the transfer portal after an up-and-down freshman season with the Bruins, he told 247Sports on Thursday. Moore arrived as one of the most-celebrated UCLA signees of the modern era and made five starts, but he struggled with ball security in league play and ultimately lost the job late in the year.
Moore finished the season 114 of 213 passing for 1,610 yards, 11 touchdowns and nine interceptions as the Bruins wrapped the regular season at 7-5 following a 6-2 start. He netted -84 yards rushing and lost three fumbles behind poor pass protection. The Bruins ranked No. 122 nationally with 42 sacks allowed at the conclusion of the regular season.
Still, there were glimpses from Moore of the potential that made him a five-star prospect and the No. 4 overall prospect, per 247Sports, in the Class of 2023. In his first start, Moore completed 17 of 27 passes for 290 yards and three touchdowns in a win at San Diego State.
But once Pac-12 play arrived, the Detroit native struggled to adjust to the heightened level of competition. On UCLA's first play from scrimmage in a 14-7 loss at Utah on Sept. 23, the Utes' Karene Reid intercepted Moore and returned it 21 yards for a touchdown. Things never improved from there; the Bruins wound up playing a game of musical chairs at quarterback with Ethan Garbers and Collin Schlee also logging starts in 2023.
Impact on UCLA
Moore's departure leaves a major question at quarterback for the Bruins as they depart the Pac-12 for the Big Ten. For the first five seasons of his tenure, coach Chip Kelly had Dorian Thompson-Robinson at the position. The two helped the Bruins build from 3-9 in 2018 to 9-4 in 2022 before Thompson-Robinson exhausted his eligibility and landed with the Cleveland Browns.
Moore was the longterm heir-apparent as the program's second-highest rated signee of the 247Sports era. But now, Kelly must find a new solution at the position as he enters Year 7 on the job squarely on the hot seat. Garbers began and ended the season as the starter, though he left the season finale against Cal in the first quarter due to injury. He has at least one season of eligibility remaining and could be an option after completing 66.4% of his passes for 984 yards, nine touchdowns and three interceptions in the regular season.
Former Kent State transfer Schlee is also eligible to return after appearing in six games and starting in a 17-7 loss to Arizona State on Nov. 11. Three-star quarterback prospect Karson Gordon of Bellaire, Texas, is committed as part of the Bruins' 2024 recruiting class, and there are numerous proven quarterbacks in the transfer portal.
Moore's next move
Moore was originally committed to Oregon before flipping to UCLA last December just prior to the early signing period. He also considered Texas A&M, LSU, Notre Dame and Michigan during his high school recruitment. The Aggies have since undergone a coaching change, but Moore should still have a relationship with the staffs at the other schools on the list. There should be plenty of other suitors, too, considering he ranked behind only Arch Manning of Texas and Nico Iamaleava of Tennessee in 247Sports' quarterback rankings for the Class of 2023.
Few freshmen were thrown into more difficult circumstances than Moore in 2023 as most coaches opted to go the redshirt route with their young quarterbacks. While Moore's starting experience featured growing pains, it also earned him some seasoning. If he appears in four or fewer games next season, he could use 2024 as a redshirt year and still have three seasons of eligibility to reclaim a once-promising career trajectory.