By Larry Penkava

CHAPEL HILL — Fifty years after beginning his football career, Darrell Moody still enjoys what he’s doing. As senior advisor to UNC Coach Mack Brown, he evaluates high school talent and advises current players seeking NFL careers.

Moody, 73, was a quarterback at Asheboro High School, where he and the Blue Comets won state championships in 1963 and ’65 under the tutelage of the legendary Lee J. Stone. While in high school, Moody also enjoyed a state baseball championship.

Darrell Moody

His talents took him to N.C. State, where he played football and baseball, experiencing the College World Series under Coach Sam Esposito. While a graduate student, he began his college coaching career under Lou Holtz, then followed Bo Rein to LSU. His college career spans seven universities, including Southern Mississippi, Appalachian State, Tulane and Clemson.

However, Moody got his first taste of coaching at Asheboro High under Max Morgan. He also spent 2001 at Eastern Randolph High as offensive coordinator.

Why has he never been a head coach?

“It probably has to do with my personality,” he said. “[Head coaching] never did appeal to me. I’ve enjoyed the coaching part. A head coach is involved more in the administrative side. I’m content to be an offensive coordinator or position coach. The demands are so much on a head coach.”

The coaches Moody has been involved with influenced him, from Holtz to Rein to Bobby Collins and, of course, Brown. 

“Mack and I go back to 1975 [at Southern Mississippi],” Moody said. “I went to Appalachian with him, then he went to Oklahoma. Then, I went to Tulane with him [when Brown was hired as head coach] and came to UNC [for Brown’s first tenure with the Tar Heels]. Mack has had a big impact on me in how he runs the program.”

Clemson hired Moody as offensive coordinator for the 1996 season before he headed back to Raleigh to coach wide receivers at N.C. State. Then it was back to UNC as offensive coordinator for three years, then a year at Eastern Randolph before going to the NFL in 2002.

He was a scout for the San Diego Chargers, Buffalo Bills and San Francisco 49ers until Brown lured him back to Chapel Hill in 2019.

“I was scouting when Mack asked if I’d be interested in evaluating talent, which I’d been doing in the NFL,” Moody said. “The travel was getting to be too much and I already lived in Chapel Hill.”

His NFL scouting area was the Southeastern Conference and the southern end of the Atlantic Coast Conference.

“Anybody who came out of there, I had scouted,” he said. “Calvin Johnson of Georgia Tech was probably the best player I saw. I was fortunate to have that area. I evaluated players from 14 national champions and two runners-up.”

Scouting is basically what Moody does for UNC, except at the high school level. 

“I evaluate high school players and give my opinion,” he said. “The coaches make the decisions” as to which players to offer scholarships.

With several sources in the NFL, Moody also advises UNC players as to which NFL teams they might fit in with and what round of the draft they could be picked. It’s up to the player, if he’s not a senior, to decide if he leaves school early to join the draft pool or remain in school for another year of experience.

So, how does Moody balance his allegiance to his alma mater and the school he works for?

“The people working with me are more important than the name of the institution,” he said. “There are great people at State and there are great people at UNC. Those great, classy people at both schools have had a great influence on my life.

“My feeling is, don’t let the name of the institution interfere with your relationship with people,” Moody said. “We can harass each other [about rivalries] but we’re friends.”

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Moody makes no bones about the importance of growing up in Asheboro and the people who have influenced his life.

“I am appreciative of growing up in Asheboro, very appreciative of all the people who influenced my life, who went out of their way to encourage me and keep me on the right track,” he said. “Asheboro was a very close town built around mills and athletics. It was a good time to live in Asheboro from an athletics standpoint.

“We were a very close-knit group,” Moody said. “People took in their kids and other kids. It had a positive effect on my life.”

Likewise, athletics has been special in his life.

“Sports has been unbelievably kind to me over the years,” he said, noting that he’s enjoyed high school state championships, the College World Series and many bowl games.

Is retirement in the near future for Moody?

“I enjoy what I’m doing, but there will come a time when you’d rather be on a golf course or spending more time with the granddaughter,” he said.

But right now, Moody is busy evaluating high school football talent and advising UNC players on the possibility of being drafted into the NFL. As long as he’s having fun, he plans to be on the sidelines doing what he’s enjoyed for the past 50 years.

Darrell Moody’s coaching career

YearsSchool/NFL teamTitle
2019–presentNorth CarolinaSenior Advisor to the Head Coach
2015–18San Francisco 49ersScout
2010–14Buffalo BillsScout
2002–09San Diego ChargersScout
2001Eastern Randolph HSOffensive Coordinator
1998–2000North CarolinaOffensive Coordinator
1997N.C. StateWide Receivers Coach
1996ClemsonOffensive Coordinator
1988–95North CarolinaRunning Backs Coach/
Recruiting Coordinator
1985–87TulaneOffensive Coordinator
1984Appalachian StateAssistant Head Coach/
Quarterbacks Coach
1980–83LSURunning Backs Coach
1977–79N.C. StateQuarterbacks/
Running Backs Coach
1975Southern MississippiRunning Backs Coach
1973–74N.C. StateDefensive Graduate Assistant
1971–72Asheboro HSQuarterbacks/Running Backs Coach

Larry Penkava has been writing for newspapers since 1982. He has covered UNC sports, particularly the behind-the-scenes stories, for three years. When he’s not watching the Tar Heels, he enjoys running and reading.

Photos courtesy of UNC Athletics Communications

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