Randy Moss' finds redemption coming home to Marshall from FSU

We continue our series examining the most successful second chances in college football history. We will highlight players and coaches that have found success or redemption at a second school after a transfer or coaching change in Double Dip, presented by IHop. We now look at Randy Moss' tumultuous road that took him to Florida State and then back home to West Virginia where he starred at Marshall before a stellar NFL career. 

First Stop: Randy Moss was among the nation's top recruits coming out of high school -- and for good reason. The super-talented receiver initially signed his letter of intent with Notre Dame but was denied admissions due to his involvement in a fight at his high school during his senior year. 

Moss ended up at Florida State, but -- since he had signed his LOI to Notre Dame -- was considered a transfer student by the NCAA and forced to redshirt and sit out the 1995 season. While redshirting at FSU, Moss' legend grew. He reportedly ran a 4.25 in the 40-yard dash -- the fastest by a Seminole not named Deion Sanders -- making the hype surrounding Moss even greater. 

However, Moss would never play a competitive down for Florida State. He tested positive for marijuana in 1996 while on probation for his involvement in the fight the year prior and was kicked out of the program by Bobby Bowden. Moss chose to return to his home state of West Virginia to play for Marshall, which was Division I-AA (now FCS) at the time, so he was able to play there immediately. 

Double Dip: Getting a respite from the national spotlight and going back closer to home at Marshall proved to be a great move for Moss, as he was able to mature and develop on and off the field in his two years in Huntington. 

Moss served his 30-day jail sentence for failing the drug test and violating his probation and then immediately got to work breaking records at Marshall. Moss broke or tied most every major receiving record in Division I-AA history in the 1996 season. That year, he caught 78 passes for 1,709 yards and 28 touchdowns and put Marshall football on the map. Marshall went undefeated in 1996 and won the Division I-AA championship behind Moss' incredible play. 

In 1997, Marshall made the leap to Division I-A (now FBS) and Moss -- along with future NFL quarterback Chad Pennington -- led the Thundering Herd to a bowl appearance in their first season at the highest level. Moss hauled in 96 passes for 1,820 yards and 26 touchdowns in the 1997 season. That year, he won the Biletnikoff Award as the nation's top receiver and finished fourth in the Heisman Trophy voting. 

NFL Career: After his two seasons at Marshall, Moss moved on to the NFL where he was selected 21st overall by the Minnesota Vikings in the 1998 NFL Draft. Moss won offensive rookie of the year honors in 1998 by catching 68 passes for 1,313 yards and setting the NFL rookie record for receiving touchdowns with 17. 

In his (soon-to-be) Hall of Fame career, Moss had 10 seasons with 1,000 or more receiving yards (second all-time in NFL history) and nine seasons with 10 or more receiving touchdowns. His 23 touchdown receptions in the 2007 season with the Patriots set the all-time single season record for touchdown catches. 

Moss is second on the NFL's all-time touchdown receptions list with 157, sixth in all-time receiving yards with 15,292 and 10th in all-time receptions with 954. After a pair of false starts to his college career -- and legal trouble that could have derailed his entire football future -- Moss made a remarkable turnaround that started with his time at Marshall and will certainly end with a bronze bust placed in Canton, Ohio in the near future. 

Randy Moss rejuvenated his career at Marshall and became a future Pro Football Hall of Famer. (Getty Images)
Randy Moss rejuvenated his career at Marshall and became a future Pro Football Hall of Famer. (Getty Images)
CBS Sports Writer

Robby Kalland covers college football and golf for CBS Sports; he also dabbles in boxing, mixed martial arts and other sports. Prior to joining CBS in 2015, Robby spent time working for the Atlanta Hawks,... Full Bio

Join our Pick'em Challenge and compete for $1,000 each week.

Our Latest Stories