Prior to the start of the 2019 season, junior tight end Thaddeus Moss hadn’t been able to play in a football game for two seasons, and it took a toll on him.
“Last year was one of the hardest years of my life physically, emotionally and mentally.” Moss said. “There was a lot up in the air. I didn’t know how I was going to come back from surgery, but I worked really hard this off-season, and I’m looking forward to this season.”
Moss joined LSU as a transfer from North Carolina State in 2017. He had to sit out his sophomore season, but the 2018 season was one of uncertainty, as a nagging foot injury continued to bother him, and his status for each game was either “questionable” or “out.”
Moss suffered a foot fracture in training camp prior to the 2018 season and was forced to have surgery, further delaying his debut for the Tigers. Even after the surgery, however, Moss’ foot hadn’t fully healed.
“I had to take it day by day, from having surgery and not being able to walk, to learning how to walk again and then learning how to jog again. It was a long process,” Moss said.
Every week during the season, Moss attempted to practice, but each time the result was the same. He wasn’t ready to play. It became a common occurrence for Tiger fans to wonder if Moss would be ready to play, only to see him emerge from the tunnel wearing sweat pants and no pads on game day.
Moss underwent a second surgery toward the end of the 2018 season, and this time it was successful.
Moss continued to train and rehab for the final few weeks of the season but never got to a point physically where he could play. So he made it a point to not let up through the spring, summer and then fall camps so he could be ready for the 2019 season opener.
Some teammates took notice of the hard work that Moss was putting in and the mental toughness it takes to come back from an injury like that.
“I’m glad to see that he hasn’t given up on his dream to play for LSU,” said senior cornerback Kristian Fulton. “... I’m just proud of him. I know he’s fought through a lot of adversity, but he’s making the best of it.”
“Thad has a lot of character, and it shows,” said junior fullback Tory Carter. “His resiliency, to be able to overcome those injuries and stay strong mentally, it’s not easy to fight through that.”
On Aug. 31 against Georgia Southern, Moss got his first chance to suit up for LSU, and in the first quarter, Moss caught his first collegiate pass in three years.
“It fired me up, hearing the crowd roar, and just catching the ball that me and Joe (Burrow) have gone over so many times,” Moss said. “It just feels good to finally be able to see that hard work pay off.”
Moss followed his first catch with deep route reminiscent of his hall of fame father, Randy, could be proud of, and Burrow rewarded him with a perfect throw resulting in a 44-yard completion.
It was two long years of hard work culminating into two catches, but the value of those two catches were a lot more than just a statistic. They represented the pain and adversity that Moss had to endure to get to that point.