With basketball roots, Indianapolis Colts tight end Mo Alie-Cox has a bright NFL future.
When the Indianapolis Colts signed tight end Mo Alie-Cox back in 2017, he was mostly known for his accomplishments on the basketball court at the college level. Having not played a single snap of football since high school, Alie-Cox was thought of as a long shot to make the roster despite an impressive résumé built playing for the VCU Rams.
In his college hoops career, Alie-Cox started 103 of 142 games. His career statistics included 1,092 points, 663 rebounds, 87 steals, 112 assists and 255 blocks. His biggest accomplishment, however, was leading the Rams to their first-ever Atlantic-10 championship. When he left campus, Alie Cox was and still is the school’s all-time leader in field goal percentage.
Upon signing with the Colts and transitioning to football, though, he didn’t automatically make the active roster and was signed to the practice squad. He got his first glimpse of action in October 2018 when he caught a pass for 11 yards against the Texans. Later in that month, he caught his first touchdown pass against the Raiders on a catch that resembled his jumping ability that was often seen in college.
Fast forward to 2020, Alie-Cox has become a staple in the Colts offense, registering a career-high five catches for 111 yards in a 28-11 win over the Minnesota Vikings in Week 2. After a solid Week 3 showing, Alie-Cox has caught 10 passes for 181 yards and one touchdown while averaging 18.1 yards per catch over his last two games.
Mo Alie-Cox looks to be the latest basketball-to-football convert at tight end
We have seen tight ends in the NFL that have a basketball background and continue on to have great success. Recently inducted Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez was a star at the University of California, leading them to the Sweet 16 before he chose to play football and excelled with the Chiefs and Falcons
Former Chargers tight end Antonio Gates went through the same route by having played basketball at Kent State before transferring to the NFL and becoming a reliable target for, coincidentally, Alie-Cox’s quarterback Phillip Rivers.
While Alie-Cox has a long way to go in order to match the productivity of those two All-Pros, it’s clear that Colts general manager Chris Ballard found a hidden gem that proved to be a far greater reward than a risk.
Of course, all the fans in Richmond know which Ram they will root for in the NFL, regardless of their other loyalties. And if Alie-Cox continues on this trajectory, Rivers might finish career with another convert from the hardwood helping him thrive.