Receiving is not Thaddeus Moss’ problem.
After all, said receiver Jonathan Giles, “His dad is Randy Moss, so you already knew he had hands.”
Thaddeus possesses the past-catching mitts that many tight ends crave. He thirsts for something else: the blocking prowess that most of his position mates already hold.
This is a different kind of tight end. The North Carolina State transfer arrived at LSU last summer known as, one, the son of a Hall of Fame father and, two, a tight end who many around the program saw — and still see — as only a 6-foot-3, 245-pound receiver.
Can't see video below? Click here.
Video by Mike Gegenheimer | Special to The Advocate
“I’m trying to get away from that,” he said Tuesday during his first appearance with reporters since arriving in Baton Rouge. “Since coming here, I wanted to balance out my game and not just be a receiver because it becomes too predictable. I know me being a tight end, I’m not going to make my money running routes. It’s not going to be the best for the team.”
Ten drills into LSU’s 15-practice spring, Moss said coaches are still experimenting with his role, moving him around between tight end and coordinator Steve Ensminger’s new H-back position. Coaches are feeling out his skills and testing, above all, that blocking ability he came here to improve — something he spent the off year last season focused on.
It is still his “No. 1 thing right now,” the sophomore said, perfecting the footwork and technique to establish himself as not only a pass catcher but a run-blocker, too. He’ll have a tougher time shaking that other perception of him — as only Randy Moss’ son.
“It’s difficult. It is difficult, I must say,” Thaddeus said. “It’s a lot of eyes, a lot of pressure and unwanted attention. I kind of take pride in it. I look forward to it. I like the added difficulty. But it is difficult at the same time.”
Not much has changed for Myles Brennan since he enrolled at LSU last June.
He took a peppering of dad questions from his teammates upon his arrival about nine months ago. That’s now slowed. On Tuesday, more than two dozen media members peppered him again.
It gets “tiring,” he admits, but Moss took it in stride, just like he did last summer. On the very first day he arrived at the operations facility, the topic was naturally his father. That topic lingered.
“It probably went on for a solid week or two weeks,” he smiled.
There are advantages to being Randy Moss’ son. Most know about Thaddeus’ hands, even some of the most talented wideouts to come through LSU.
“Thad is one of the first tight ends I’ve seen in a long time that can really just go snatch the ball,” former receiver DJ Chark said.
“I mean,” Chark added, “his dad is Randy Moss.”
Ah, yes, that again.
There are other advantages, too, like having that wealth of experience at his disposal. In fact, Moss rushed home to Charlotte, North Carolina, during spring break to work with a man who still holds NFL record for receiving touchdowns in a season (23).
Moss picks dad’s brain “all the time,” he said. At home in the yard, the two work on route running and coverage recognition. His father’s pass-catching motto is simple, Thaddeus said: “If it touches your hands, you’ve got to catch it.”
The ’ball talk with dad only covers one aspect of Moss' role as a tight end. For the blocking, he turns to senior Foster Moreau, a “second coach,” as Moss calls him. Whenever Moss has a question about this new playbook, he texts or calls Moreau, a veteran who has a more established role on the squad.
Moss is waiting for his role in the new offense to get more defined. He’s splitting his time with Tory Carter at H-back and Moreau and others at tight end. The H-back in this offense is a more simplified version of the one used in Matt Canada’s old scheme, Moss said.
The Tigers use the H-back “pretty often” under Ensminger, he said, but the way the position is used is the big difference. Moss’ knowledge of Canada’s scheme was more advanced than others. Canada recruited him at N.C. State and then brought him to LSU. The two had a connection.
The coordinator’s split with the school in January was “tough,” he said, but he’s got no regrets about his decision to come to Baton Rouge, especially since he’s now donning No. 81. He dropped the No. 82 jersey he wore last season, slipping into a familiar number.
Randy Moss wore 81 during his three-plus seasons with the Patriots, including that record-setting 23-touchdown catch year in 2007.
“I wasn’t messing with 82,” Thaddeus said. “I like the 1 better than the 2.”
Mike Gegenheimer contributed to this report.
The speed of the game was faster.