Randall Gene Moss (born February 13, 1977) is an American football wide receiver for the Minnesota Vikings of the National Football League. He was originally drafted by the Vikings 21st overall in the 1998 NFL Draft. He played college football at Marshall University.
Moss played the first seven years of his career in Minnesota before a trade in 2005 brought him to the Oakland Raiders. On April 29, 2007, Moss was traded to the New England Patriots for a fourth-round draft pick. Moss holds the NFL single season touchdown reception record (23, set in 2007), and the NFL single-season touchdown reception record for a rookie (17, in 1998).
Moss grew up in Rand, West Virginia and attended high school at the now defunct DuPont High in Belle, West Virginia, where he lettered in football, basketball, baseball and track. On the football field, Moss led the DuPont Panthers to back-to-back state championships in 1992 and 1993. He was a star at wide receiver, but also played defensive back, returned kickoffs and punts, and was the teams kicker and punter. In 1994, he was honored as the West Virginia Football Player of the Year. Parade Magazine named him to their annual All-American high school football team and recently named him one of the 50 greatest high school football players of all time.
In addition to playing football at DuPont, Moss was twice named West Virginia Player of the Year in basketball (1993 & 1994), where he was a teammate of future NBA player Jason Williams.
As a sophomore in 1992, he ran for the track team and was the West Virginia state champion in the 100 and 200 meters. This was the only year he competed on the track team. He also played center field for the baseball team.
On March 23, 1995, Moss backed a friend in a hallway fight against a white student who had allegedly used racist comments towards Randy's friend. Moss was initially charged with a felony for kicking the student, but it was later reduced to a misdemeanor. On August 1, 1995, Moss plead guilty to two counts of misdemeanor battery and was sentenced to 30 days behind bars at the South Central Regional Jail in Charleston, West Virginia. He served 3 days in jail starting that night and would be required to serve the remaining 27 days within the following 18 months, after he completed his freshman year in college.
Moss' dream was to play for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, but he also considered going to Ohio State, where his half-brother, Eric, had played offensive tackle. Former Notre Dame head coach Lou Holtz said "Randy Moss was the best high school football player I've ever seen." Florida State head coach Bobby Bowden said "He was as good as Deion Sanders. Deion's my measuring stick for athletic ability, and this kid was just a bigger Deion."
After originally signing a letter of intent to play college football with Notre Dame in 1995, Moss took part in a racially-charged fight at his high school that left one person hospitalized. Notre Dame subsequently denied his enrollment application, but this did not stop another high-profile college football program from giving him a chance. Notre Dame officials suggested he attend Florida State due to the reputation of its coach, Bobby Bowden, for handling troubled players. However, because of his signed letter of intent at Notre Dame, the NCAA considered him a transfer student, which made him ineligible to play for the Seminoles in the 1995 football season.
Freshman (redshirt) (1995)
He was red-shirted in his freshman season. While at Florida State, Moss ran a 4.25 40-yard dash, with only Deion Sanders being faster (4.23).
In 1996, while serving his 30-day jail sentence in a work-release program from 1995, Moss tested positive for smoking marijuana, thus violating his probation, and was dismissed from Florida State. He served an additional 60 days in jail for the probation violation.
Ultimately, Moss transferred to Marshall University, about an hour's drive from his home. Because Marshall was then a Division I-AA school, NCAA rules allowed him to transfer there without losing any further eligibility. In 1996, he set the NCAA Division I-AA records for most games with a touchdown catch in a season (14), most consecutive games with a touchdown catch (13), most touchdown passes caught in a season (28 - tying Jerry Rice's 1984 record), and most receiving yards gained by a freshman in a season (1709 on 78 catches), a record which still stands. Moss was also the leading kickoff returner in Division I-AA on the season, with 612 total yards and a 34.0 yard average. Marshall went undefeated and won the Division I-AA title in its last season before moving to Division I-A.
In the 1997 season, Marshall's first in Division I-A, Moss and current Miami Dolphins quarterback Chad Pennington were the centerpiece of an explosive offense that led the Thundering Herd to the Mid-American Conference title. Moss caught 25 touchdown passes that season, at the time a Division I-A record, and was a first-team All-American.
The first game of the season saw Moss pick up right where he left off in 1996. Facing Army, Moss caught 5 balls for 186 yards and two touchdowns. One touchdown went for 79 yards in which Pennington lobbed the ball down the left sideline. Moss leaped over an Army defender to snag the ball out of the air at the 40 yard line while the safety crashed into his teammate knocking both men down. Moss galloped the last 50 yards untouched for the score. The other touchdown reception was his career long of 90 yards that came on a short screen pass on third down. Moss caught the ball on the right side of the field at his own 8 yard line, ran past 3 defenders in the middle of the field at the 15 yard line, hurdled two defenders coming from both sides of the left hash marks at the 25 yard line, then raced past the last defender at the 50 yard line before finally seeing daylight down the left sideline.
A week later, Moss posted his third career 200+ yard receiving game against Kent State. Two weeks after that was his fourth and final 200+ yard game in college, recording 13 catches for 205 yards and a Marshall single-game record of 5 touchdown receptions against Ball State.
In the 1997 Ford Motor City Bowl against Ole Miss, Moss added his 26th touchdown of the season on Marshall's first offensive play from scrimmage. He streaked down the right sideline and caught an 80 yard touchdown pass from Pennington to the tie the score at 7–7. NCAA rules at the time did not allow for statistics from bowl games to be combined with regular season stats, so the touchdown did not officially increase his season touchdown record. The two teams traded the lead several times in the fourth quarter before Ole Miss running backDeuce McAllister scored on a 1-yard touchdown run with :31 seconds to play giving them a 34–31 lead. Trying to pull out a last-second win, Pennington connected with Moss on a 40 yard pass on the final play of the game, but he was stripped of the ball as time expired. Moss finished the game with 6 receptions for 173 yards.
Randy Moss finished his career at Marshall having scored at least one touchdown in all 28 games that he played. He won the Fred Biletnikoff Award as the nation's leading wide receiver, and was a finalist for the 1997 Heisman Trophy (finishing fourth in the balloting, behind Ryan Leaf, Peyton Manning, and Charles Woodson, who won the award).