Witten was good friends with then-VCU assistant coach Mike Morrell, and noticed Alie-Cox’s size and athletic ability right away.
“He told me he thought I could play in the NFL as a tight end,” Alie-Cox told HEROsports.com “Coach Smart had brought up that a couple NFL teams were scouting me, so that’s how it all started.”
The Rams forward commands attention the moment he enters a room. At 6-foot-7, 250 pounds, he’s nearly impossible to miss. There are big-bodied players on college basketball teams throughout the country, but the VCU star has a unique skill set.
He cuts like a wide receiver, he’s faster than most big men the NCAA, and he’s bigger than almost any skill position player on the football team.
NFL teams already interested, I’m told. RT @SBNationCBB: VCU’s Mo Alie-Cox is the most physically imposing player in college basketball.
— Gary Parrish (@GaryParrishCBS) November 25, 2014
The role of the tight end in the NFL has vastly changed over the last 10 years. Pro talent evaluators are targeting big-bodied, agile players who can gain separation from opposing linebackers but also block on the line of scrimmage.
Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez averaged 6.8 points per game playing basketball for California, helping the Golden Bears reach the 1997 Sweet 16. Chargers’ tight end Antonio Gates extended the trend in the early 2000’s, thriving as a NFL tight end after wrapping up an illustrious career as a hoops player at Kent State. Jimmy Graham, Julius Thomas, Jordan Reed, and the list goes on and on.
VCU forward Mo Alie-Cox (12) high-fives teammate Melvin Johnson (32).
Almost all of these NFL talents played at least one season of football at the collegiate level. Alie-Cox hasn’t touched the pigskin since 10th grade.
“I always played tight end and defensive end,” Alie Cox said. “When I transferred to private school after my 9th grade year, they didn’t have football. I was pretty much forced to stick with basketball and ended up landing a DI scholarship.”
Alie-Cox’s chance to transition to the top level of football isn’t just some rumor. A scout from the Kansas City Chiefs attended one of VCU’s practices this year. A representative from the Miami Dolphins called and spoke to Rams head coach Will Wade.
For now, the remains focused on the current basketball season, but he admits playing in the NFL lingers in the back of his mind.
“It crosses my mind from time to time, but I don’t really think about it too much,” Alie-Cox said. “I know I still have a good amount of time here. I really want to focus on winning now, and getting to a second week in the NCAA tournament or another Final Four. The goals that are right in front of me have been the major focus.”
The VCU forward has put together a productive start to the 2016-17 hoops season averaging 10 points and 3.8 rebounds per game. The Rams boast a 6-2 record, so Alie-Cox’s goal of reaching the NCAA tournament appears to be a reality. After the final whistle blows, whenever it may be, he will be faced with a life-changing decision.
Football or basketball?
We caught up with Alie-Cox to test his football knowledge and learn more about his love for the gridiron. Check it out: