Whether it’s his high school offensive line coach Randy West calling him a teddy bear, or his father Morris, who likes to say his son is just a “big ol’ baby,” the consensus is that Morgan wouldn’t hurt a fly — off the field at least.
Moses loves to drink tea and curl up on the couch when he’s with his family, which is his favorite place to be. If you ask his brother, Morris Jr. will also tell you about the production of “Wizard of Oz” that Morgan participated in back in his figure skating days. Talking to Moses and his family it’s easy to forget that he pancakes professional defensive ends for a living.
Though he is living his dream now, the path was not always so clear for the boy from Richmond who struggled academically in high school and lost his scholarship to the University of Virginia as a result.
“I ran into some issues with grades coming out of high school,” Moses said. “So I prepped one year at Fork Union Military School which was the hardest thing. I had to cut all my hair off, I had long dreadlocks and I had to cut them off. I had actually committed to UVA out of high school, I signed with Al Groh, but
when I went to Fork Union I voided my scholarship and went back on the tour of Morgan Moses I guess you could say.”
Fork Union was not easy for Morgan who was thrust into a tough academic environment and forced to keep up or get out. But he persevered and on the other side he found himself standing in the UVA locker room with tears in his eyes.
“I actually cried the first day I stepped in the locker room,” said Moses. “Because I had been through so much I was like ‘Dang I’m finally here’, and I couldn’t believe it.”
Morris Moses never expected his younger son to make a living playing sports. Morgan was the smallest in the family for years, but he and Morgan’s mother Marion Graves gave their son every opportunity growing up. His athleticism allowed him to play baseball, basketball, football and even ice hockey as well as figure skating growing up. He competed with his older brother in everything, even over who would play the drums at church on Sunday.
“He’s a singer too, but he won’t tell you that,” said Morris Jr. “Before we’d go to school during the week — because I used to play the drums all the time so much — he used to get up earlier than everybody, 6 in the morning and he’d be up singing and playing drums waking up the entire neighborhood.”
Many people doubted that Moses could achieve academically at a school that he describes as a place where if you fall behind once you won’t catch up. But all it took for Moses to flourish was to find his passion, his family will tell you that when he finds something he loves his drive to succeed at it is boundless.
For Moses, that passion was anthropology, and the man who sparked it was George Mentore. Mentore is an anthropology professor at UVA who teaches with a flair that captured the heart and mind of a young man struggling to find his place.
“It was just one of those deals where I didn’t really know what I wanted to study so I was just floating around from classroom to classroom trying to take different classes and see where my niche was,” said Moses. “Then I came across Professor Mentore and one of his classes and the way he explained things, and the way he taught. One thing I say about Anthropology is that there is no wrong answer, as long as you can back it up there’s a right answer. So I got into that and started taking class after class with him and other professors that he recommended and I just fell in love with Anthropology.”
Not only did Moses finish his degree at the university, he did so in three-and-a-half years, rather than four.
After he returned from the NFL Draft in New York, he returned to Charlottesville to walk across the stage and receive his diploma to the delight of his friends and family. But not even being drafted, graduating or his subsequent proposal to his fiance will be the proudest moment for Moses this year. That will come in October when he welcomes his son Isaiah into the world.