Before they were first-round draft picks and catching touchdown passes in the NFL, Kyle Pitts and D.J. Moore were teammates in a different sport – track and field.
Moore and Pitts ran together for the Cambria Youth track club in North Philadelphia, where they both ran short sprints (100 meters, 200 meters, 4x100 meter relay). Though Moore says, he does not remember Pitts as the speedster that ran 4.46 in the 40-yard dash before the NFL draft.
"He was in the middle from what I remember," Moore said with a laugh, on if Pitts' was slow or fast, "but now he fast, so yeah, back then it didn't even matter."
Pitts and Moore will share the same field on Sunday as the Panthers take on the Falcons at 1 p.m. at Mercedes Benz Stadium. For the two former track teammates, the game means more than just two friends making it to the NFL, but a statement about the talented football players that Philadelphia produces.
Pitts, 21, is three years younger than Moore. He watched closely as a freshman when Moore dominated in his senior season for perennial powerhouse Imhotep Charter in the Philadelphia Public League and garnered national attention as one of the best prep players in Pennsylvania. Moore was a three-star recruit according to ESPN high school rankings with offers from the University of Maryland, Boston College, and the University of Indiana, among others.
"D.J. was one of the first renegades of Philadelphia that just came out and did very well in high school, went to the division one level and got to the league," Pitts said. "So someone I definitely looked up to and tried to follow in his footsteps to get to where he was."
And Pitts did more than just follow in Moore's footsteps — he crafted his own path.
After transferring from Abington Senior High School following his freshman year, Pitts joined juggernaut Archbishop Wood – just 13 miles away from Imhotep – of the Philadelphia Catholic League. Pitts quickly became one of the best players in the state before making history at the University of Florida and now in the NFL.
Now Pitts and Moore are a part of a recent string of young players from Philadelphia who are playing in the NFL, including D'Andre Swift (Lions), Christian Barmore (Patriots), Nasir Adderley (Chargers), Mark Webb (Chargers), and a few others.
"It's real special that this little group is all making it because we all knew each other growing up," Moore said. "In Philly, it was a big thing because we all played high school together. We all was real competitive no matter what. But we just stayed out the way and from the streets and everything, just to make sure all this happened to us."
Pitts has been on a great to start this season and specifically in his past two games, becoming the only rookie tight end with back-to-back 100-yard games in 50 years. He has 16 catches for 282 yards and a touchdown over the historic two-game span.
While Moore is proud of all Pitts is doing and wants him to be successful, he just hopes it is not against the Panthers.
"Listen, we cool and all, but on Sunday, we got a job to do," Moore said with a laugh, "so after the game, if he score, I might tell 'em I'm proud of him."
And Pitts admitted he would do the same – after a jersey swap, of course.
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