Moe's Ascent To Mizzou Football Success Started in O'Fallon
Missouri football wide receiver T.J. Moe traces the path to his breakout season in 2010 back to his childhood in O'Fallon
Astonishing sports moments occur frequently enough to warrant nightly television highlight segments, and University of Missouri football player T.J. Moe’s catch and touchdown run against San Diego State on Sept. 18th deserved the prime billing it received on national sports shows. Not only did it display superb athletic ability, but also happened to win the game for the Tigers.
Less than 10 seconds of play on the football field for Moe that night put him on display as a first-rate wide receiver, but nearly 10 years of work and experience growing up in the community of O’Fallon helped shape him as a person, and build a foundation for his current role as a college football star.
“The coaches on my Junior Jaguars teams, Ken Webb and my Dad (David Moe) and the other coaches were great guys early on…they taught me not just football, but to have fun with the game and provided good direction for me and my teammates,” said Moe during a recent Patch interview.
With his team finishing undefeated in sixth-grade, Moe developed confidence as an athlete and dedicated more and more time to sports. Despite several close-knit neighborhoods and plenty of friends while growing up, Moe spent more time shooting baskets in the evening than hanging out.
Backyard hoops kept Moe busy for the most part as a young teenager, but as he grew up the call of the wild pulled on him and as he leaned toward becoming “a little bit of a troublemaker,” he said. He was positively influenced by a junior high school coach named Hannibal Najjar at Christian High School, where Moe attended sixth through eighth grades.
“Coach Najjar was the guy who helped me turn things around and learn how to live life outside of sports. He taught me about respect and shared some of things he’d learned when he was young,” said Moe.
There are times when successful young athletes feel pulled towards being something others want them to be, but Najjar helped Moe learn how to be himself. “He showed me how to be what I needed to be instead of trying to be what others wanted to me to be,” Moe explained.
The lessons learned at Christian High School carried Moe through a successful four years at Fort Zumwalt West High School, where he not only starred as a quarterback on the football team but excelled as a student, particularly in mathematics. Math teacher and tennis coach Nicole Moyer stood out as an influential educator during Moe’s time at Zumwalt West.
“During my three years with Ms. Moyer, I learned I was strong enough in math that I’m now studying business administration, and depending on how the next few years go, I think I have the skills for a job in finance or accounting,” Moe said.
That is, of course, if football ends up taking up less of his time, which seems unlikely as the sophomore prepares for his third season at Mizzou.
These days Moe is upbeat about sports, studies and life in general. His music choices reflect his attitude. “Right now I’m listening to Lil’ Wayne’s 'I’m a go getta and Lay ‘em down' by Need to Breathe…they’re so positive, a lot of the guys on the team are listening to those songs,” Moe said.
The message is definitely positive from Moe and he encourages younger kids to dream big, be it in sports or other activities.
“Whenever you’re out there playing or involved in something you may not think you’ll get there or you’ll make it, but don’t give up because failing to accomplish something is better than regretting you never tried,” Moe advised.
With a strong community foundation to build from, and a highlight reel reflecting his success, the Mizzou star’s advice comes from a place of well-deserved confidence.