- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 3, 2014

Gentle is not a word that most people would associate with a six-foot-six 314-pound NFL tackle, but no matter who you ask, it’s the best word to describe Morgan Moses.

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.

Moses has always had a passion for kids. His father speculates that it may spring from the fact that Morgan is just a big kid himself, but whatever the source the love is there and it is genuine.

When the Redskins had an off day during training camp, Moses was asked to throw out the first pitch at the Richmond Flying Squirrels game. While at the game he encountered a family who wanted him to take a picture with their three-year-old son who is battling cancer. Moses spent 20 minutes talking to the young man and his family and invited them as his guests to training camp the next day. When the family showed up at practice Moses put everything on hold and spent the better part of an hour simply playing with the little boy.

Morgan’s sister Tamiya said that it’s just how they were raised.

“We were always raised to make sure that, when you meet somebody, make sure that you leave an impact on their life in a positive way,” said Tamiya. “So when you see somebody in need, even if it’s your last, you need to give it because the blessing will come back to you tenfold.”

It is easy to see that Moses has carried that lesson with him throughout his football journey. No matter what obstacle he faced or how his life changed for better or worse, he always kept his priorities straight.

His faith and his value system have carried him through trials and successes and he has never lost sight of what matters. Whether he is playing catch with a young cancer patient, spending time with his family or protecting his quarterback, he pours himself wholly into what he loves.

Morgan knew he was blessed with a gift to play football,” said West. “He knew that if he did what was asked of him that he would succeed. He put God first in everything that he did and that was one of the things I appreciated the most about him.”

Moses is a soft-spoken giant, a man who loves God and his family and finds joy in music and playing with children. He is also an NFL tackle with a promising career ahead of him. Morgan Moses is many things, but most of all he is gentle — unless you’re trying to sack his quarterback.

Morgan’s just a loveable guy,” said Morris Jr. “Coming from where we come from being motivated to make the best out of any situation as a brother I’m proud of him.”