Mo Alie-Cox Indianapolis Colts

Former VCU basketball standout Mo Alie-Cox has found his spot in the pros, but he’ll be playing a different sport. On Friday, Alie-Cox signed a contract to play tight end for the Indianapolis Colts.

Although Alie-Cox was a basketball-only athlete at the collegiate level, he played football growing up. And he has the body to be an effective tight end at 6’7″ and 250 pounds. Alie-Cox was actually NFL Draft-eligible last year, which explains why the Colts were able to simply sign him to a deal.

Alie-Cox was a key contributor for four NCAA Tournament teams at VCU. As a senior, he averaged 9.5 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.0 blocks. Since the season ended in March, the power forward had plans to test the NFL waters, as first reported by Mike Garafolo of NFL Network. As early as November 2014, the start of his sophomore year, NFL teams had him on their radars.

During the basketball season, Alie-Cox told Hero Sports he had not played football since 9th grade:

“I always played tight end and defensive end,” Alie Cox said. “When I transferred to private school after my 9th grade year, they didn’t have football. I was pretty much forced to stick with basketball and ended up landing a DI scholarship.”

The Colts are thin at tight end, so Alie-Cox will have his chance for playing time. Indianapolis traded Dwayne Allen to the Patriots in March, leaving fifth-year pro Jack Doyle as the starter. Alie-Cox could compete with Erik Swoope, another college basketball player turned NFL tight end out of Miami, for the backup job.

Along with Swoope, some other former college basketball players who have had success at tight end are Tony Gonzalez, Antonio Gates, Jimmy Graham, and Julius Thomas. While Alie-Cox has not hit the gridiron in years, most of those who have been successful in the transition played at the collegiate level. Gonzalez was an All-American at Cal and left school early for the NFL Draft. Graham spent his graduate year at Miami playing football after exhausting his basketball eligibility. Thomas was an All-Big Sky selection at Portland State.

But Alie-Cox can look to Gates and even Swoope, his new teammate, for some inspiration. Neither played a single snap in college, but Gates blossomed into an eight-time Pro Bowler and Swoope worked his way into every game of the 2016 season for the Colts, catching his first career touchdown pass in Week 15.

About Jesse Kramer

Jesse is a writer and editor for The Comeback. He has also worked for SI.com and runs The Catch and Shoot, a college basketball website based in Chicago. He is a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. Follow Jesse on Twitter @Jesse_Kramer.