Kristopher Moll was the invisible man.
On Dec. 3, 2021, Moll — who announced a commitment to Washington last week — officially entered the transfer portal, following five productive seasons at UAB. The two-time All-Conference USA first-team linebacker sought to play his sixth and final season at the Power Five level, and took an official visit to Louisville just four days later.
But after playing in just four games and registering 14 total tackles last fall because of a broken right thumb, Moll arrived at Louisville with lingering question marks.
“The season had just finished, so I honestly was not where I wanted to be physically,” Moll told The Times last week. “I had just moved to DB so I had lost a bunch of weight. I was weighing probably 200 pounds. I wasn’t working out because I had that hand injury, so I was still recovering from that.
“I didn’t really pass the eye test on my visit. They were kind of worried about my injuries. They told me after my visit that they were worried about if I was going to be able to hold up through the whole season — with me being smaller and the injuries I’ve had in the past. They said they were going to move on and find somebody else.”
The Cardinals did just that, signing Ole Miss transfer MoMo Sanogo.
Meanwhile, Moll was forced to start over — which was problematic, considering he hadn’t anticipated needing Plan B.
“All of the other schools that had hit me up and contacted me (immediately after entering the portal), I honestly didn’t reply to them,” Moll said. “That was the mistake I made — me not knowing how to work the whole recruiting process.”
Moll — whose only FBS offer out of Miami Coral Gables Senior High School came from UAB — admits the situation stemmed from “me being hardheaded.” It didn’t matter that he had piled up 221 tackles, 27.5 tackles for loss, 13 sacks, nine passes defended, six forced fumbles and two interceptions in five seasons and 47 career games — including 104 tackles, 16 tackles for loss, nine sacks, four forced fumbles and an interception in a tremendous 2019 campaign.
Other possible suitors filled their vacancies, while Moll was forced to sit out the spring. He says he ended up “taking the time to recover my body and get strong and healthy and take a break off football and really determine if I loved it and wanted to keep doing this. It was a hard time. I didn’t have any offers. I was wondering, ‘Am I still good?’ There were a lot of things going on in my head, honestly.”
It’s possible, after Louisville moved on from Moll, other programs concluded he must not be worth the risk. Or, considering 502 FBS scholarship players entered the portal in December alone, he may have simply fallen through the proverbial cracks. Regardless, “The Athletic” published a story on March 29 detailing Moll’s transfer portal purgatory.
“And once they wrote that article, I guess a lot of schools saw that I was still in the portal,” Moll said. “I don’t know what happened, but offers started rolling in after that.”
Within a week, Moll announced offers from Georgia Southern, Arkansas State, Charlotte, Marshall, Texas State, UNLV and Kansas. On April 25, after receiving a UCF offer, he quickly committed.
UW co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach William Inge made contact the very same day.
“After that day me and him just built a relationship,” said Moll, who earned an undergraduate degree in communication studies from UAB last winter. “I was able to trust him because players that I played with told me great things about him and just told me I could trust him and wanted me to play for him. They said nothing but good things about him, so it definitely helped me trust him myself. After that month of me and him talking, I felt like that was the right place for me to go. I felt comfortable with coach Inge.”
Following an official visit on the weekend of May 14, Moll flipped his commitment from UCF to Washington. He did so despite late offers from Texas and Arizona as well. Now completely healthy, Moll says he’s currently sitting at 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds and will arrive in Seattle this summer.
At UW, Pitt graduate transfer Cam Bright is expected to step into the starting rotation, following the offseason injury to Edefuan Ulofoshio and Cal transfer of last season’s top tackler — Jackson Sirmon. Sophomores Carson Bruener and Alphonzo Tuputala also worked with the starters this spring, while sophomores Daniel Heimuli and Drew Fowler and junior Demario King could compete for rotational reps as well.
But coming off a season in which Washington ranked 10th in the Pac-12 in opponent yards per carry (4.76) and 11th in rushing defense (194 yards allowed per game), Moll knows what the Huskies need.
“I know that they’re in need of another linebacker. I know I can fit that role,” he said. “I know they lost their main guy, Eddy. So with them losing him and bringing in Cam (Bright), they need one more guy that can step up and play right now and lead the team and just be an older guy that’s going to make plays and grind and be an example to the younger dudes and help them out. I feel like I can do that for the team.”
And considering his extended transfer portal stay, the 2020 Phil Steele honorable-mention All-American is thankful to have a team at all.
“It’s like I had a big old heavy bar on my back,” Moll said, “and I just finished my set and can put the bar back up and get ready to go.”