Jim Reid will never forget one of his first recruiting assignments when he arrived in Charlottesville: Get Morgan Moses.
The mountainous man-child from Richmond’s Meadowbrook High School (via Fork Union Military), had re-opened his recruitment and then-new Virginia head football coach Mike London knew he had to have Moses.
The night before Reid was to make his recruiting presentation to the Moses family, Ohio State’s Jim Tressel had sat on the couch and told them how the gigantic linemen belonged in a Buckeyes’ uniform. Same night, LSU’s Les Miles gave his spiel.
“And little ol’ me, the last one in … oh boy, we got a real chance,” Reid chuckled sarcastically when recalling the moment on Wednesday.
The personable Reid hit it off with Moses’ parents, who were just as interested in their son’s academic future as his one in football. Bingo, Virginia was in.
While that particular recruiting road took some twists and turns, Moses finally ended up in Charlottesville, where he started at three positions on the Cavaliers’ offensive line, winding up at the valued left tackle spot. Sometime tonight, Moses is expected to hear his name called in the first round of the NFL Draft, just as Reid told him on his first day on campus.
Reid, UVa’s former defensive coordinator who recruited the Richmond area (he’s now on the Iowa coaching staff), ordered Moses to report to the football office at 6 a.m. sharp on the big lineman’s first day. Reid wanted to make a point and asked UVa video coordinator Luke Goldstein for assistance.
When Moses arrived, only he and Reid sat in the team meeting room. Reid didn’t want anyone else around. Then Reid turned on the video of former UVa players walking across the stage to shake hands with the NFL commish.
“I told Mo, ‘If you do exactly what you’re supposed to do, stay motivated on the field, in the weight room, and in the classroom, some day this is going to be you on this video. Do you see the opportunity you have?’” Reid explained to his prize recruit.
Moses acknowledged in the affirmative.
“Good,” Reid said. “We’re going to watch it again.”
Moses had come from a, shall we say, shaky academic background, so much that he required a year of postgraduate bookwork at Fork Union. Even after that, some critics predicted Moses would never make it through Virginia’s rigorous academic regimen.
Reid was one of the bulldogs on the staff assigned to make sure football players attended class (Reid often sat in on classes, particularly early morning), and that if they needed tutoring, they got it.
“A guy that I don’t think gets enough credit is Jim Reid,” said present Meadowbrook coach Troy Taylor, who succeeded longtime coach Bill Bowles (who retired after Moses’ senior season). “Jim Reid took Morgan under his wing.”
Reid was Moses’ go-to-guy with any problems, questions, and Reid’s door was always open. London was ecstatic the two had that kind of relationship, like the time that Moses was unsure late in the recruiting process if he was going to sign his national letter of intent on the designated day.
A couple of months earlier, there had been some confusion about a class credit or something at Fork Union and the Moses family was on the verge of panic. Reid suggested that the family meet him and FUMA coach John Shuman at the school, located between Richmond and Charlottesville, to clear up the matter.
Shuman, Fork Union’s longtime postgrad football coach, simplified everything, got everyone on the same page and laid out the groundwork so that everyone understood what needed to be done for Moses to move on to UVa. Moses’ mom turned to Reid and said that for the first time in two years, she fully understood what had to be done academically for her son to move forward.
That moment came up near signing day when Moses called London and said he wasn’t sure he wanted to sign on signing day. London, in a state of shock, handed the phone to Reid and said, ‘Talk to Morgan.’
Reid asked what was up and Moses said he wanted to visit Ohio State and LSU just to be sure about where he wanted to play college football. While there was reason to sweat, cause to panic, Reid did neither.
“I told Morgan, ‘Who is the one person you love more than anyone in the world?’” Reid said.
Moses answered it was his mother.
“Remember what your mom said a couple months ago down at Fork Union, that this was the first time in two years she could sleep at night because she knew exactly what you had to do and that everything would be alright at Virginia?” Reid reminded the lineman.
Moses said that yes, he remembered.
“So, what are you going to do tomorrow, Morgan?” Reid asked.
“I’m going to sign with Virginia,” Moses responded.
Reid handed the phone back to London and said, “we’re good.”
Everybody wanted a lineman like Moses, athletic, tough, 6-foot-6, 335 pounds (his senior year at UVa, but now at 313, once was upwards of 350).
“This guy went on 10 official visits,” Meadowbrook’s Taylor said. “He’s probably been on more official visits than anybody. He was recruited by everybody in the country. He could have gone anywhere, but he stayed true to his commitment to Virginia. A lot of that’s because of Jim Reid.”
Reid may not remember the first time he met Moses, but Meadowbrook’s Bowles recalled it as if it were a week ago.
“Coach Reid was in my office and when you come out of my office, you got to turn a sharp right where the kids come in,” Bowles said. “Jim hadn’t seen Mo. Jim’s coming around the corner and Mo’s coming around the corner and Jim just stopped. And Mo stopped. Mo didn’t say anything, he just kind of look at Jim. Coach Reid looked at Mo … they didn’t say anything for about five seconds … and Coach Reid says, ‘You may be the biggest human being I’ve ever seen.’”
Reid said he doesn’t claim to be an expert, but spent two years in the NFL and often watched Dolphins’ offensive tackle Jake Long, a first-round pick, during practice or on film.
“I watched [Long] for two years and I think Morgan can be that type of guy,” Reid said.
Reid said he’s never run across a better person than Moses, who fits the model that London established for his players: an educated man, a wonderful football player, and a great human being.
Moses will walk across the stage and receive his diploma later this month, but tonight, he’s hoping to make that walk across another stage.
“I will be out recruiting,” Reid said during a call from Indianapolis. “But I will have my radio on.”
He will share that dream of big Mo shaking hands with the commissioner, just like on the video.