Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard, but Tre’von Moehrig has both covered ahead of Thursday’s NFL draft.
Moehrig, an award-winning Texas Christian University safety and Smithson Valley alum, is set to make history this weekend. Only one former Ranger, Corey Clark, has ever been selected in the draft: in 2008, the Chargers made him a seventh-round pick.
But by all accounts, Moehrig won’t be around when the 234th pick rolls around. In fact, by the time the second round rolls around on Friday, he may be long gone. Daniel Jeremiah and Pro Football Focus both rank him as the 16th-best prospect in the draft; CBS Sports and The Draft Network slot him in their respective top 32s, as well.
It’s a big jump up from his three-star recruiting ranking – the 247 Sports Composite ranked him as just the 469th-best recruit in his class. Snubbed by blue bloods such as Texas and Alabama, Moehrig enrolled at TCU in June 2018 and began to do what he does best: put in work.
“(When I think of Tre’von), I think of a talented player who worked hard, and that’s not always the case,” Larry Hill, Moehrig’s high school coach, said. “A lot of times, ultra-talented kids don’t develop a strong work ethic ‘cause they’ve been able to get by without one. (But) I was always impressed with how hard he practiced.”
As a junior, Moehrig lined up at cornerback, wide receiver and returner. On offense, he turned just 17 touches into 432 yards and six touchdowns – and tossed a touchdown pass to boot – but it was in the return game that his athleticism truly shined. That year, he returned 12 punts for 340 yards and four touchdowns, and 14 kicks for 532 yards and two touchdowns. Both of those are, obviously, among the school’s all-time high-water marks.
Moehrig earned First Team All-Area honors that year and committed to TCU that spring. But he didn’t ease off the gas; in fact, he accelerated.
“We had 24 summer workouts that the UIL (allotted) us, (and) he was at all 24 of them,” Hill said. “He wasn’t resting on his laurels, so to speak. … It was really important to him that he learned the nuances of it all. (He spent) a lot of time with position coaches, wanting to get it just right. And that’s not normally the case when you think of high-profile players. So, good kid, hard worker and obviously a talented player.”
His return opportunities lessened as his career progressed – “they wouldn’t kick it over there to him,” Hill said – but he still managed to rewrite the record books. In fact, Moehrig tops the single-season and career punt return and career kick return leaderboards in yards, yards per return and touchdowns. In 2016, he was three-tenths of a yard per return from sweeping the single-season kick return record sheets, too.
But perhaps the defining moment of Moehrig’s career didn’t come on special teams. In late October of his senior season, the Rangers traveled to Rutledge Stadium to take on rival Judson, a then-undefeated giant on a 19-game home winning streak; the Rockets hadn’t lost at Rutledge in over three calendar years. And even that loss came by a single point at the hands of the state-semifinalist Steele Knights. No one walked into Rutledge Stadium and came out on top.
That is, of course, except for the Rangers.
After a back-and-forth contest that saw Judson tie the game in the fourth quarter, the Rockets received the ball to start overtime and kicked a chip-shot field goal to take a 37-34 lead. Down one score and with the biggest game of the year on the line, then-quarterback Levi Williams heaved the ball to Moehrig, who was quickly wrapped up by a safety.
But he spun free on the goal line, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Throwback to 2017, when Trevon Moehrig caught a walk-off touchdown in overtime to beat then-undefeated Judson on their own turf, 40-37. pic.twitter.com/Sfx4rg2k1T
— Jackson Posey ✞ (@ByJacksonPosey) January 8, 2021
Even as he dominated on the field, though, those close to him never saw him as a star. He wasn’t some big shot – he was just Tre.
“Of course I enjoyed watching him (in high school, but) I never felt that he was better than anyone else,” Kandace Moehrig, Tre’von’s mom, said. “I would say that I watched him do something that he really loved to do, and God blessed him with the talent to be able to do that.
“I don’t ever think Tre really felt like he was better than anyone else, either. He liked his teammates, and he worked hard for them and his coaches and himself.”
Tre’von may have started small. But as a Horned Frog, he proved to not only be an elite safety, but the best of the best. On Jan. 7, live on ESPN, Moehrig won the Jim Thorpe Award for the best defensive back in the country, defeating University of Central Florida safety Richie Grant and Alabama cornerback (and potential top 10 pick) Patrick Surtain II along the way.
“Trevon’s just a great kid,” said Craig Wersterfer, Tre’von’s high school defensive coordinator. “A great character guy, works really hard. He’s obviously gifted [with] God-given ability, but he’s done his best to maximize his potential through work ethic, and just getting after it.”
Off the field, Tre’von is what his mom calls a “regular guy.” He likes fishing and swimming. He loves reptiles – all animals, really. And there’s a side of him that never shows up on the field.
“People that knew Tre before he started football, they wouldn’t have thought that Tre would start football, because Tre is, he’s a mama’s boy,” Kandace said. “He’s scared of the cicadas and the katydids that are out here, still to this day. He used to ask me to open the door when he would pull up in the driveway so he could just run in.”
Yup, that’s right. Tre’von Moehrig, the consensus top safety in the NFL draft, is scared of cicadas and katydids.
“That’s been like, since he was a kid, all the way through high school, and there probably (were times during) his freshman year in college when they got real bad and I would have to do the same,” Kandace said. “And, I’m not lying, if he had one on his car on the driver’s side, he would crawl through the passenger side and get in the car. … He’s probably going to be a little embarrassed about that, but he’ll get over it.”
Tre’von, who didn’t respond to requests for comment for this story, will have an uphill battle in front of him. There is one player who can resonate with him: Andrew Sendejo, another under-recruited Ranger defensive back who just completed his 11th season in the NFL.
But even Sendejo, a two-star recruit who accepted his lone offer to Rice, didn’t have a first-round draft pedigree; the strong safety went undrafted and had to prove himself with the Sacramento Mountain Lions of the United Football League before an NFL team would offer him a roster spot.
Still, he’s managed to claw to the top of the league and made a Brinks truck worth of money along the way. And so will Tre’von, after he receives his pre-slotted contract: if the Jaguars select him at No. 25 – that’s where The Draft Network’s Mock Draft Machine thinks he’ll land – he’d be in line to make about $12.5 million, with a roughly $6.5 million signing bonus. That’s plenty of pretty pennies, and Hill (somewhat jokingly) wants a cut.
“I told (Tre’von) the other day on the phone, I said, ‘you know, the Tre’von Moehrig-Andrew Sendejo Indoor Practice Facility has a nice ring to it,’” Hill said. “He started laughing. ‘We’ll see, coach. We’ll see.’
“Anyway, I said, ‘y’all could go in halfsies and have this thing done.’ So, I don’t know if that’s happening or not.”
A bigger wildcard than the unabbreviated “TM-ASIPF” is Tre’von’s future home. Some mock drafts have him as high as the teens; others suspect he’ll drop into the second round.
“I’ve been nervous for a while,” Kandace said. “I think I’m not nervous about him going. I’m nervous about, ‘How far is he going to be from me?’ Cause we’re pretty close. And so I’m like, just (praying) that he doesn’t go super far.
“I’m nervous just because, you know, he’s my baby, and I am used to him just being four hours away. And so, those things make me nervous, but we’re a family of strong believers. And so we know that God has a plan for Tre and that, you know, whatever that plan is, we’re gonna see it through, whether it be the way he wants it to be or not. So I’m excited.”
“Several” franchises have called Hill to do “extensive” background checks. Teams have done their homework; Tre’von Moehrig has done all he can do. Until 7 p.m. on Thursday, there’s nothing anyone can do but wait, take a deep breath and listen to the buzz of the cicadas.
This story was originally published on Valley Ventana on April 29, 2021.