Notre Dame-Marshall and how an NFL legend nearly attended Notre Dame

The game between Marshall and Notre Dame this weekend will have a shorter history between the two institutions since neither team has played the other very much.

There is little duplication of players between the two schools, except Cain Madden, who transferred from Marshall to Notre Dame for the 2021 season. Football is something that none of them has ever done together.

Unless one counts among them the most excellent talented wide receiver the NFL has ever seen, no one else comes close.

In 2018, Randy Moss was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, despite having a tumultuous end to his college football career that spanned the previous two decades.

During his professional life, he signed a letter of intent to attend Notre Dame, even though he never enrolled there.

What is the background of the relationship between Moss and Notre Dame, what led to it turning out the way it did, and what other possibilities were there?

Look at the potential top player in the recruiting class that Notre Dame still needs to sign.

Randy Moss, the High School Legend :

It is possible that Jerry West, a former player for the Los Angeles Lakers, is Randy Moss’s only competitor for the title of best high school athlete in West Virginia history. Jerry West played basketball for the Los Angeles Lakers. 18 Stripes claims that Moss was a ridiculous athlete in all the sports he participated in, not just football.

In the 100-meter and 200-meter sprints, Moss won the state championships while competing for Du Pont High School’s track and field team. He scored 44 touchdowns in football while playing as a receiver, safety, kicker, punter, and returner. He also excelled in basketball, averaging 30.2 points and 13.7 rebounds per game. In addition, he was an outstanding performer in all sports.

“The best football player I’ve ever seen”- Lou Holtz

We could spend days going through Randy Moss’s numbers, even though they assist in telling the story. Nevertheless, what about the other college football coaches vying for his abilities? The followings are Bobby Bowden’s and Lou Holtz’s remarks about how they see Moss as a potential recruit.

Bowden: “The same caliber as Deion Sanders. My standard for evaluating an athlete’s prowess is Deion, and this child is head and shoulders above him.”

Holtz: “The best football player I’ve seen in my life.”

Moss loved Notre Dame :

When Moss was regarded as one of the best players in the country in 1995, recruiting coverage wasn’t as extensive, but it was significant enough to get national attention. Source: The LA Times, 1997

Moss has a frequent football fantasy that included joining Notre Dame. He used to argue with his brother over who liked the Irish more.

The competition is described by Moss as “usually we’d start naming players, All-Americans, Heisman, numbers, Back in this day who wore number so and so.” “It was like a quiz game. Who is most fond of them?

The day Notre Dame sent Moss a questionnaire, he was in paradise. There wouldn’t be a battle for recruits. Moss intended to visit South Bend.

Moss is part of Notre Dame’s top-ranked recruiting class :

After a disappointing season for the normally championship-contending Irish in 1994, in which they finished with a record of just 6-5-1, head coach Lou Holtz and Notre Dame pulled in the best recruiting class in the nation the following winter. Moss joined the club after committing to Notre Dame football.

He was set to join a class that already included several other good athletes, such as the brilliant fullback Jamie Spencer, the best linebacker in the nation in Kory Minor, and a fantastic offensive lineman in Matt Rosenthal.

Moss never enrolls at Notre Dame :

Not long after Moss enrolled at Notre Dame, he was involved in a fight at his previous high school, which resulted in his imprisonment for thirty days. Remembering that a kid carved the term “n-word” into a desk was the spark that started the conflict more than three decades later is very important.

After sustaining a lacerated spleen, the fellow student spent some time in the hospital. As a result of the incident and the fact that his application was not fully completed, Moss could not get admission to Notre Dame since he could not provide his letter of intent.

Short Florida State Stay:

Moss was forced to sit out the 1995 season since he was switching schools, but he was eventually able to enroll at Florida State when Notre Dame withdrew his scholarship.

After a positive drug test, Moss was ordered to leave Tallahassee, so in 1996 he relocated again, this time to Marshall, a powerhouse in the I-AA at that time. Moss played for Marshall during that period.

Moss Breaks Out at Marshall :

Moss was finally allowed to participate in college football for the first time in the fall of 1996 at Marshall, where he immediately established himself as a formidable opponent.

It was almost as if he were programming a player into a video game, assigning that person a rating of 99, and then utilizing that player to dominate weaker opponents.

He caught 3,467 yards in two seasons at 20.3 yards per grab and scored 54 touchdowns. Moss was among many candidates for the Heisman Trophy, including Charles Woodson of Michigan, Peyton Manning of Tennessee, and Ryan Leaf of Washington State.

Draft fall, Moss dominated NFL :

Everyone assumed that Manning and Leaf would be taken with the top two picks in the 1998 NFL Draft, and most people thought Moss would be born shortly after that. However, that did not come to pass as the Minnesota Vikings took him in the 21st overall spot in their draft.

Moss did nothing but catch passes during his first season, yet he ended up with 69 receptions, 1,317 yards, and 17 touchdowns.

Moss is an all-time great :

It’s difficult, but who would you want to have as a receiver throughout history—Jerry Rice or Randy Moss—if you ignored all of their off-field problems? The guy developed into one of, if not the finest, players ever to play the position in the NFL.

The 2018 Pro Football Hall of Famer’s Career Stats:

  • 15,292 receiving yards – 4th most all-time
  • 156 receiving touchdowns – 2nd all-time
  • 982 receptions – 9th all-time
  • Four-time first-team All-Pro
  • Six-time Pro Bowler

What if?

The question “what-if” worth a million dollars is “what would have happened to Notre Dame and Moss if he had ultimately decided to attend Notre Dame.”

Because of his history, he was even kicked out of Florida State University in the middle of the 1990s, but let’s suppose that his life off the field had improved at that point. Among the many possible outcomes are the following:

The sooner they transition to a more offensive style of play, the better it will be for Notre Dame.

Moss may rescue the day in the first game of the 1995 season against Northwestern by being an unstoppable rookie and preventing the massive upset from happening. As a result, Notre Dame finishes the season with serious championship aspirations and enters bowl season with a chance to win the title.

The 1996 Notre Dame team, who ended the regular season 8-3 overall with close losses to both USC and Air Force and a 13-point home loss to Ohio State, is likely to go at least 10-1, if not better. This would be an improvement over their previous record of 8-3.

After 1996, Lou Holtz continued to be engaged in various capacities.

In 1997, Bob Davie declined the opportunity to become the head coach at Notre Dame and instead accepted a job at another school.

The controversies involving Willingham and Weis don’t happen in the same way that the echoes from 1997 until roughly 2011 have been dampened.

Leave a comment below with your views on what may have transpired if Moss had attended Notre Dame in 1995, and let us know what you think would have occurred.

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