By JOHN JAMES MARSHALL, Journal Sports
In many ways, it’s easy being an elite high school football player. Some of the most recognizable people in collegiate sports have your cell number. Little kids ask for your autograph. Television cameras seek you out after a game.
Easy for some. Not as easy for Mar’Jayvious Moss.
One of the lessons the Northwood senior learned early on was that he would have to grow up faster than other kids his age. There was a simple reason for that – he had no other choice.
While some high school seniors leave school and go home to play video games or to a part-time job, that’s not an option for a four-star athlete who is wanted by colleges across the country.
Mar’Jayvious Moss goes home to his reality.
He is the second of seven children with a mother and an older brother who both work. His mother, LaQuisha Moss, works at a hotel as a supervisor and has a schedule that varies day to day. “I’m usually the last one to leave every day I work,” she says.
Moss is not only one of the top defensive backs in the state, but often has the responsibility of laundry for his younger siblings, doing their hair, making meals, driving the carpool and just about every duty you might imagine. “I even fixed the plumbing one day,” he says.
“He did that without me even knowing,” LaQuisha Moss says.
In a time when most high school seniors sleep until the last possible second, Moss often wakes up at 5:30 in the morning to get everyone in the household ready for the day. That’s almost three hours before school starts at Northwood.
“There are a lot of eyes on me from the younger guys, so every little mistake matters,” Moss says.
Eyes from fellow teammates or younger siblings? “Both,” he says.
“His mother is a really great lady who supports Mar’Jayvious, but she’s also great at telling him how it is,” Northwood coach Austin Brown says. “And she’s told him that as a Black kid in America, you have to grow up a lot faster. That’s just how it is.”
Moss is focused on this week’s huge battle in District 1-4A with the undefeated North DeSoto Griffins on Friday. That will require lots of film study – when he can find the time.
“The weekends are probably the most hectic because we are all at home,” Moss says. “The youngest is not at day care, so it gets a little rowdy.”
“I can always see how much he cares and how fatherly he is,” Brown says. “He’s always got a car full of kids to bring home. He’s always looking out for the betterment of the people on this team, not just his brothers and sisters.”
“Whatever he does, he’s committed to it,” says his mother. “He’s very mature for his age and a great big brother. He’s always got a smile on his face.”
You can’t tell the story of Mar’Jayvious Moss without talking about what happened in April. While making the rounds of taking siblings to school, he stopped along Highway 3132 due to car trouble. While he was checking things out, he was hit by a passing vehicle.
“I never saw it coming,” Moss says. “I don’t even remember getting hit. I just remember being helped up by my little brother and the man who was driving and getting placed in the ambulance.”
Though he had been knocked into the air by a moving vehicle, X-rays, CT scan and an MRI revealed no broken bones. “Only stitches,” he says.
“Me and his mother and his siblings all arrived at the hospital at the same time and we found him smiling, laughing and kidding around,” Brown says. “He tried to tell me he was going to run in the regional (track meet) the next day. Of course, he was full of adrenalin. Then he called me the next day and said “Coach, it feels like I was hit by a truck.’ “
“I thank God every day,” Moss says. “That could have been my life.”
After quite a bit of rehab, the 5-foot-11, 180-pound Moss was ready when the Falcons’ season started. A year ago, he got the spotlight placed squarely on him when he intercepted five passes in one game. (That’s not a misprint.)
His regular position (and mostly likely role in college) is at safety — he leads the team in solo tackles — but he also sees time at wide receiver and special teams, which he enjoys most of all.
Put it this way: Hardly a play goes by in which opposing coaches aren’t accounting for where Moss is on the field.
But here’s what you need to know most about Mar’Jayvious Moss. If you ask him what’s his favorite thing about football, he won’t tell you that it’s scoring touchdowns or a big hit or picking off a pass.
“These days, we all preach about brotherhood,” Moss says. “Blanchard is mostly White, but you have people like me who come from the ’hood. Football brings everybody together. This isn’t just a great school; it’s a great community. Nothing does that like football.”
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