Thaddeus Moss isn’t like everyone else involved with LSU football, counting down the days until the Tigers’ Aug. 31 season opener against Georgia Southern.
Don’t misunderstand. He daydreams about it. Visualizes it. But for him, football for so long was treatment rooms and doctors’ offices and rehabilitation sessions. He is relishing the day to day grind of preseason camp as much as anyone can enjoy sweating rivers in the August Louisiana heat.
Because it’s football again. And for so long, football was taken away from him.
“It feels really good,” an animated Moss said Wednesday. “Camp itself, I don’t take anything for granted. Not a snap. Not a day. It’s just great to put a string of practices together.”
Moss hasn’t missed a day since the Tigers first put on the pads last Friday. Still, he acknowledges, it isn’t a game. And a football game is something the tight end, son of Pro Football Hall of Fame receiver Randy Moss, hasn’t taken part in for a very long time.
It has been nearly three years in fact. Three years since the Charlotte, North Carolina, native played his last game as a freshman at North Carolina State.
He then decided to transfer to LSU in 2017 but by rule had to sit out. There was one season gone. Then injury, the first serious physical setback of his career, claimed another.
It was the first week of June 2018 and Moss, like most all college players, was taking part in summer drills when he felt a pop in his left foot.
“I was doing a one-on-one rep with (linebacker) Ray Thornton,” Moss said. “A route I’ve run a thousand times before. I didn’t step on his foot or anything. I thought I rolled my ankle because I couldn’t walk well on it.”
When he finally went in for treatment he almost jumped off the examining table when LSU trainers touched his foot. It felt like fire. He had fractured the fifth metatarsal of his left foot, one of the bones in the middle of the foot that attach to the toes and give a foot its arch. Surgery was needed, but unfortunately for Moss it didn’t do the job.
“The type of fracture I had, the doctors said they hadn’t seen that before,” Moss said. “My foot was essentially still fractured last year even though I had the surgery.”
The 2018 season was a frustrating series of fits and starts. Just when it seemed he was healed enough to play, Moss would suffer another setback.
“I was supposed to be ready for the Miami game,” Moss said. “Then it was like, ‘Oh, I’m going to be able to play this week’ then poof, two more weeks to try again. It was on repeat.”
Finally, just before Thanksgiving, he underwent a second surgery. This time, successful.
“That surgery went great,” he said.
After a long offseason of extra work — Moss didn’t leave campus even for spring break — he said he feels ready to go.
“I really do feel great,” he said. “I’ve worked really hard in the offseason to have my body where it is right now. It feels good to be able to get through practice fully, not have my reps limited. I’m doing days back to back to back and I feel fine.”
Though only 21, Moss said “it seems like it’s been 20 years” since his freshman season at N.C. State. He is eager to fit into a role in the new spread offense crafted by offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger and first-year passing game coordinator Joe Brady. Through an amazing coincidence, Brady and Moss played for the same high school coach, Michael Palmieri: Brady at Everglades High in South Florida, Moss at Mallard Creek in Charlotte.
“I love this offense,” Moss said. “I love the system. I love Joe Brady. It’s a system that gives the defense fits. We have answers for everything. If they do this, we do this. If they do (that), we do (that). We’ve really been on the attacking end. The defense is reacting to us.”
Quarterback Joe Burrow has said this LSU offense can score 40 points a game. Moss didn’t disagree.
“We know how talented this offense is. How many playmakers we have,” he said.
“Everybody eats in this offense.”
For the first time in a long time, Moss looks like he will have a seat at the table.