COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) -- The return of William Moore comes at a good time for Missouri, as the fourth-ranked Tigers prepare for their Big 12 opener at Nebraska on Saturday.
Moore sprained a foot in the season-opening win over Illinois, then aggravated the injury in a 69-17 win over Nevada on Sept. 13. He didn't play in Missouri's 42-21 win over Buffalo on Sept. 20.
The Tigers (4-0) had a bye last week, giving Moore an extra week to heal in preparation for Nebraska (3-1).
His return to the lineup is expected to help Missouri's defense that ranks 112th against the pass and 80th overall.
"We can do a lot of things with a healthy William Moore," coach Gary Pinkel said. "You lose a player like that it effects you. But the good news is he is back."
Moore said he is at about "85 percent" right now. He hopes to help the defense get over its tendency to give up big plays.
"I can bring leadership and keep the guys enthused," Moore said. "I think that's one thing, telling them to fight harder and never give up."
Pinkel has called Moore the best athlete on the team. In 2007, Moore had 117 tackles and tied for the NCAA lead with eight interceptions. He was a consensus All-Big 12 selection and was second team All-American for The Associated Press.
"It's a big help having Willy Mo coming in and help us out in that secondary," cornerback Carl Gettis said. "Having that leader back in the defense will really help us and it's a big factor."
Moore considered making himself available for the NFL draft after his breakout 2007 season. In addition to his numbers, he's fast and big for a safety -- 6-foot-1, 230 pounds.
But pre-draft evaluations weren't what he wanted, and he decided to return for his senior year.
Defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus is thrilled to have him back on the field.
"Having a skilled player like him back is really good because it allows us to execute what we feel we are capable of doing," Eberflus said.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)