Meet Mo Alie-Cox: The Next Successful Basketball to NFL Tight End Conversion Story | Def Pen
Mo Alie-Cox
Is Mo Alie-Cox the next great NFL tight end in the making? (Charles Fox/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)

Fill out those brackets! That’s the mantra for March. Everyone seems to participate in March Madness as 70 million brackets are expected to be filled out in 2017. As you fill out your brackets, it’s time to get more familiar with one player that is expected to affect an entirely different sport this fall. VCU’s 6’7″ Senior Power Forward Mo Alie-Cox has the chance to become a success story, it just might come in the NFL as a tight end instead of a hero at the NCAA Tournament.

How Did This Story Even Start?

Two years ago Cowboys tight end Jason Witten attended a VCU college basketball game. Witten delivered a message to that 2015 that revolved around teamwork. However, the All-Pro tight end gave a different message to Mo Alie-Cox when he was a sophomore.

“You’ve got a football body, Witten told Alie-Cox. Not to mention huge hands, he added, stretching his own digits — hardened and calloused by a dozen seasons in the NFL — for a palm-to-palm comparison. You could get an invite to an NFL training camp just based on how you look out of pads, Witten said.”

“He told me I could make the transition to football,” Alie-Cox said. “He said if it’s something I wanted to do I should look into it.”

The funniest part of this story is that VCU doesn’t even have a football team. Alie-Cox’s physical traits don’t make it hard to see why he couldn’t become a successful tight end. For VCU, he is the last line of defense adding a tough component to his team. On offense, Alie-Cox is a high-flying player who will soar for dunks and set stonewall screens as a high pick and roll player to open up opportunities for his teammates. At 6-foot-7, 250 pounds, he moves a lot better than the prototypical big man in college basketball making him a fun prospect for NFL teams to keep their eye on moving forward. His former assistant coach Jeremy Ballard thinks Alie-Cox could make the transition to the NFL or any sport for that matter.

“Mo definitely embraces physicality,” Ballard said. “He really sets the tone for us. Those types of things translate to any sport, whether it’s football, baseball, anything. The things that Mo exudes in terms of his unselfishness and toughness, those go across the board, I think.”

Would He Consider An NFL Career?

Alie-Cox will likely try to stick in the NBA following the conclusion of his Senior season at VCU. He likely won’t get drafted in the 2017 NBA Draft but he could have an opportunity overseas or in the D-League. Mo Alie-Cox, 23, is currently averaging 9.7 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 1.1 assists for VCU this season.

“There’s less chance of injury (in basketball). In football you see all these players getting hurt. Recently, a lot of players are retiring early. Just more safety-wise, I would try the NBA first. But if that didn’t work out I would definitely try the NFL.”

In what is considered a deep tight end draft, Alie-Cox may garner interest in the 6th or 7th round of the 2017 NFL Draft. In 2016, the Cowboys drafted Rico Gathers in the 6th round after he never played collegiate basketball. Gathers played most of the year on the practice squad getting groomed for an NFL career. The former Baylor hoops star is expected to become the backup to Jason Witten at some point in 2017.

Has This Worked Before?

Some of the greatest tight ends in the history of football began as college basketball players. Tony Gonzalez, the greatest tight end ever played 3 years of basketball at California. Chargers legend Antonio Gates was a hero for Kent State’s basketball team helping them advance to the Elite 8 in 2002. Jimmy Graham was even a key member for Miami back in 2008. Julius Thomas and Jordan Reed are just a few more examples of this success story. When you watch the tournament this year keep an eye on Mo Alie-Cox. He might help your brackets just as much as your NFL fantasy team one day.

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