If the name proves prophetic, Moses McCray might be one of many to join a roster of players who helped to lead the University of Akron football team out of the desert known as persistent losing.
This fifth-year senior transfer from the Florida State Seminoles joins the Zips this fall, adding depth to the defensive line that could go from depleted to a strength in the coming season.
If anyone can understand the road UA is traveling to get back to success, it’s McCray, who has battled injuries throughout his career.
Two years ago, he injured his anterior cruciate ligament in his knee and most recently suffered a concussion that limited his play. At age 23, he’ll be one of the Zips’ elder statesmen, who will be able to impart some knowledge of the college game.
But make no mistake, McCray, if drills and practice can be used as barometers, still possesses plenty of talent despite not playing football in two years.
“One of the most physically talented interior defensive linemen in the program, but has been limited while battling injuries,” the 2012 outlook on the FSU official website read. “Had a productive spring and should be able to add depth to a very talented group of defensive tackles.”
If he brings some of that to the Zips, he will certainly find success. The Beacon Journal spoke with McCray as he left the field Tuesday.
He sported a bandage on his forehead and wore tights to protect him from weather he and a coach called “winter in Tallahassee.”
Q: How did you land at UA?
A: I had a lot of injuries at Florida State and at schools like that, once you have a lot of injuries, they bring in other guys and you sink to the bottom of the depth chart. So my four years were coming to an end, and I guess they didn’t have any more scholarships. I started looking for a job, and I thought I was pretty much done with football, so one day [Zips defensive line] coach [Todd] Stroud called me up and said: “Hey buddy, I heard you were still trying to play.” I said “Yes.” I thought I lost my love for the game, but once I got here they made me feel like family and made it feel like home. Everything just started sparking again. I found out I was healthy. Got my physical and now I’m back rolling again.
Q: What’s it like to be back in that groove after you thought you lost it?
A: It’s a whole other feeling. I wake up with a smile on my face. I go to sleep happy. Honestly, when I thought I was done with football, I was depressed. It’s hard when you know it’s going to be over, but it’s over sooner than you expected.
Q: Did you have aspirations of playing pro ball?
A: Yes. Yes.
Q: Do you think that with a good year, that’s still possible now?
A: I think it’s still possible. I didn’t lose any of my talent. I got better technique-wise. I’m still strong. I’m still fast. Honestly, it’s a blessing because a lot of people who had the injuries that I had, they don’t really come back in the same shape they left.
Q: How frustrating are the injuries when it seems fate is telling you something?
A: Honestly, I feel a bunch of psychology classes that I’ve taken and prayer have kept me sane, because it can get very frustrating. A lot of people who don’t have the mental strength, to put up with stuff like that, would probably lose their minds. You know?
Q: Why do you feel like you have the strength?
A: I just feel the way I was raised, the people growing up that I surrounded myself with, they helped me build my mental strength. They always told me it always gets worse before it gets better. It’s not how you start, but how you finish. Things like that.
Q: You think you’ve been tested these past three or four years?
A: (Laughs) Tested isn’t the word. I don’t know what to say about that.
Q: When healthy, how good are you?
A: (Hesitates) Phenomenal, I would say. The thing about is I know what I can do. I’m just humble. I don’t go around saying I can do this. I can do that. I just kind of keep to myself and I lift guys up. You knock them down, you help them back up.
Q: What do you think you bring to the team?
A: I think I bring leadership. Tenacity. Confidence. Friendship. A sense of humor because I like to joke around a lot.
Q: Do you have goals set for this year?
A: I just want to help Akron be the best they can be. I not only want to help them be great football players, but I want to help them grow to be great young men. In the end, football isn’t forever.
Q: What’s it like going against Henry Orelus (who also transferred from Florida State) again?
A: It’s also fun. He likes to talk trash. I like to talk trash. But we know it’s all in fun.