On Iowa State’s first play from scrimmage at Iowa in 2000, J.J. Moses took a reverse and all he saw was daylight.
The speedy wideout from Waterloo then made an opportune cut at the 11-yard line, freezing a Hawkeye defender and darting into the end zone on a 58-yard spurt.
Moses’ run was the catalyst in ISU’s third-straight series victory over Iowa and one of many highlights from the Cyclones’ incredible 2000 football season.
He had a dream the night before he was going to score on the first play. He did, and 15 years later, he still can remember everything about it.
“Coach (Steve) Loney (ISU’s offensive coordinator) told me the day before, ‘Hey, we’re going to start the game with a reverse,’” Moses said. “We were hoping for some big yardage to start the game and set the momentum. The night before the game I had an actual experience that I saw myself scoring that touchdown, and I still remember the feeling. Sage (Rosenfels) goes back, he hands the ball back to me. I go around the corner and around the end and all I remember saying was, ‘Lord, please allow me to score this touchdown.’ I saw two big guys coming in about to tackle me close to the end zone, but I was able to kind of sneak through it. It was a gutsy call. If they stuffed us, I believe that would’ve caused the momentum to shift their way. But we were able to go ahead and score quick.”
Moses had a breakout senior campaign in 2000. He caught 53 passes for 775 yards. He also was an electric kickoff returner, earning All-Big 12 First Team honors at that position and second team accolades as a receiver.
His contributions helped the Cyclones win a school-record nine games and capture their first-ever bowl victory with a 37-29 triumph over Pittsburgh in the Insight.com Bowl.
The memories he shared with his teammates in that record-breaking season is something Moses will always cherish.
“We had a great group of seniors coming back on that team, guys like Sage Rosenfels, Reggie Hayward, and James Reed, just to name a few,” Moses said. “We decided we can be the team that will turn Iowa State football around. What we decided to do was to come together as a team. We would work out together as a team, but then after the workouts, we would meet around and participate in drills by ourselves because we were so focused and driven. That senior year rolls around and we go 9-3. We surprised so many individuals and we ended up winning the Insight.com Bowl game in Arizona. It was a just a great thing that the seniors decided to come together. We kind of helped change the course of Iowa State.”
Another breakthrough moment of that memorable year occurred on a snow-covered field in Boulder, Colorado in mid-November. Iowa State entered the game on a 16-game losing streak to Colorado.
Breaking the streak was on ISU’s mind, but the Cyclones fell behind 20-9 before making a comeback. Moses did his part, turning a short pass from Sage Rosenfels into a 44-yard touchdown to give ISU a 26-20 advantage.
ISU hung on for victory, 35-27, as Reggie Hayward recovered a fumble on its own 10-yard line, halting a potential CU rally in the final minute.
“Wow, I remember snow,” Moses laughed. “I remember Carl Gomez kicking a big-time field goal that just barely goes over the crossbar. I remember Reggie Hayward going in and making some big sacks and recovering the fumble to end the game. I remember Doug Densmore going up and picking up a fumble and returning it maybe 30 or 40 yards. Overall, that game showed that a lot of players could go in and make big plays for us. It was snowing, and we went in and competed and we made some big plays. Sage made some great throws. I was lucky to catch some footballs. I just thought overall it was a great team effort for us.”
Moses played four seasons in the NFL after his Cyclone career ended. From 2003-04, he handled the majority of the Houston Texans’ punt and kickoff returns, tabulating long returns of 40 yards (punt) and 70 yards (kickoff), both during the 2003 season.
Moses’ NFL career began in a workout on the campus of Iowa State.
“Sage (Rosenfels) was going to have a tryout for the Kansas City Chiefs and he asked me if I wanted to catch some balls for his workout,” Moses remembered. “All the Chiefs were coming, head coach Dick Vermeil and the whole front office were there to watch him work out. The workout finished and Vermeil walks up to me, reaches out and shakes my hand and says, ‘Son, today you have just made it into the NFL.’ At that moment I was able to land a spot in the NFL, and since 2000 I have benefited from that workout because I’m still involved in the NFL for the last 15 years as a player and now as an ambassador. Opportunities can come your way when you least expect it.”
Moses was a popular figure in Houston and has remained in the Houston area where he as a found success as a motivational speaker.
Moses made a return trip to his alma mater today to help promote the NFL’s Fuel Up to Play 60 campaign in conjunction with the Midwest Dairy Council. It’s a joint effort to help promote nutritional and health awareness to children and adults.
Motivating and educating people is something Moses is very comfortable with. He was happy to be able to spread his positive message in his return to Iowa State.
“I’m glad to be back at my alma mater,” Moses said. “I’m a spokesman for the NFL Fuel up to Play 60 event in which we encourage kids to go out and exercise at least 60 minutes out of the day and eat healthy. I’m just honored to be a part of such a great program which promotes a positive message to kids to eat healthy and to stay focused. Who knows, there might be the next J.J. Moses out there playing football!”