A stroll through the history books with John Turner
We love stars. Recruits rank big time high school players with star level rankings. We rank the schools according to how many star rated players they have at times. We idolize them, we wish upon them, we strive to be them. Some stars seem to be destined for that honor through their bloodlines while other start with a spark and ignite themselves into a supernova over time. Today we take the opportunity to callback a star that started out as an unknown walk on that was too small for the game to even get a scholarship out of high school. His name is Santana Moss.
As a third team all state receiver and kick returner at Carol City HS in Florida, He wasn’t exactly on every big program’s radar way back in a time known as the 90s. Perhaps it was destiny combined with perfect timing that he decided that perhaps with a little hard work and dedication he could crack the roster for his hometown Hurricanes. Although this particular squad wasn’t exactly world beaters(5-6), you just might recognize some of the guys on this roster:
It took exactly three weeks of play for Butch Davis and the other coaches to look around at each other and realize this kid needed to be on scholarship. Over the next three seasons he’d be a part of a program that was rapidly climbing back into the championship picture all while competing against players for playing time all over the field. On offense alone getting touches wasn’t easy considering all the weapons they had on the team. Najeh Davenport, Clinton Portis, Andre Johnson, and Jeremy Shockey were all brought in during his time at The U. His numbers continued to climb regardless of who they brought in. He had 1600 plus total yards his senior year with 750 receiving, 200 on the ground from six carries(6!!!), 650 on punt returns, and a total of 11 touchdowns. Those punt returns oh by the way came with a guy named Ed Reed on the team as well.
Being a part of a 12-1 program has its perks. The NFL is great at scouting the big programs, so it’s no coincidence his play on the big stage caught eyes across the league and eventually led to him being drafted in the first round by a team that historically drafts a decent percentage of busts there. It must have almost felt like he was back to feeling like a walk on again that rookie season. Chad Morton was already there returning punts. Laveranues Coles and Wayne Chrebet were already the primary pass targets. Oh and they had some guy named Curtis Martin who had 386 touches for 1833 yards too. He’d be once again playing the long con. He wouldn’t become a full time starter until his third season when Coles was traded to Washington. Morton also left for the Redskins opening up the door for punt return duties. That particular season he’d shine to the tune of 1000 yards and 10 touchdowns. Rinse and repeate the following season and then he was traded. Ironically it was Coles, who he played behind while on the Jets that the Redskins Head Coach Joe Gibbs traded away for Moss.
Moss would be joining fellow U members Clinton Portis and Sean Taylor along with another young pass catcher in Chris Cooley. The offense may not have been built perfectly for those three on offense but at times was very exciting. None more exciting than late on a Monday Night Football game in Dallas against the Cowboys in 2005. Down 13-0 late in the fourth, Moss would catch back to back bombs from Mark Brunell to hand the Cowboys one of the most devastating losses in that particular matchup’s history. His line on that day 5/159/2 and the Skins won 14-13.
Santana would remain on the Redskins for the duration of his career through three more coaches, and 10 quarterbacks. One one wonder if a guy like him and Larry Fitzgerald were on the same team with a decent and consistant quarterback, how many titles they could’ve been a part of, but that’s another story for another time. In the 10 years he spent in Washington he caught over 570 passes for nearly 8000 yards, 50 touch downs, and a Pro Bowl. It almost seemed like every new coach tried to replace him every year but when the final rosters were put together… there he was.
He won’t likely end up in the Pro Football Hall of Fame but he’s on mine for all of his hard work, great attitude, and team first mentality that took a pay cut twice while he was on the team. The league needs more players like him and needs more people to recognize them. Too often are people quick to write about Antonio Brown‘s new drama or some schools new scandal. For us here at A Football World, we will continue to “Look for the Good and Find the Good”. As for Santana Moss, like Jackson Heights’ own, Mr Randy Watson…”That boy good”.