Before beefing up to his professional playing weight of 185, Santana Moss must have looked like someones kid brother showing up as an eighteen year old walk-on at the infamous University of Miami. A place where 6-2, 200 lb. Michael Irvin made his mark, and 6-3, 215 lb. Andre Johnson was on his way.
From his freshman year on his main competition for catches at Miami was Reggie Wayne. The two future all-pros played a full four years alongside one another and ran neck and neck as receivers (and future first round picks in 2001) with Moss amassing 1,500 more all purpose yards on special teams. That extra yardage came with four punt returns for touchdowns his senior year.
Now this is a long time ago, a story that began last century. Moss and Wayne are now throwbacks playing in a new era, trying to extend their legacies amid the NFL constant rebranding. Anquan Boldin and Baltimore’s Steve Smith will be carrying the same torch, and how each of them has stuck around this long is telling of the fortitude they carry onto the field each game day.
Reminiscent of Gary Clark, Santana Moss has made a living getting caught up in traffic, and spinning out of it for another chunk of yardage, or six points. It’s been a common sight for what will add up to a decade this upcoming season, as Moss signed on to one more year this off-season. The traffic came early this summer for Moss, in the form of Andre Roberts, DeSean Jackson and fifth round draft pick Ryan Grant to boot.
Moss will be negotiating an allotment of wide receivers for playing time, and to add complication will be playing for his 5th new head coach in Jay Gruden, although he will be familiar to first year offensive coordinator Sean McVay who has coached with the Redskins since 2010. Rumor had it that Moss might field punts and that could help him edge some of the competition, but from the standpoint of his tenure with the team and his rapport with third year quarterback Robert Griffin, it should be his position to lose.
Having worked his way to a 40 catch average over the last three years Moss is due to produce no less in 2014 as he hunkers down for his last stand and perhaps relive some of the magic from the Redskins 2012 campaign. “I’ve never not had to go work for my job,” said Moss of his latest predicament. Words that should echo in the ears of his many protege who sake to fill his spot on the roster. And whichever receiver proves eager enough cross their own next rite of passage, they will assuredly be following Moss’ footsteps.