TIGER KICKOFF: Moe and Gettis finally both starting for Missouri football

Friday, October 15, 2010 | 5:00 a.m. CDT
Missouri wide receiver T.J. Moe spins for extra yardage in the Tigers' victory over Colorado.

COLUMBIA — This season, T.J. Moe’s wish came true.

He’s been wishing and planning for years, since the summer of 2006 when a new teammate and his father stopped by his seven-on-seven game at Fort Zumwalt West High School in O’Fallon. That new teammate was Carl Gettis, and Moe’s wish was that the two players would start together for Missouri’s football team.

Four years later, Moe and Gettis are both starting for the Tigers at wide receiver and cornerback, respectively. However, neither would be where he is today if it weren’t for the other reaching out and helping him to adjust to new situations. For Moe and Gettis, it’s not about age or grade — it’s not even about position. All that matters is that the other feels comfortable with his team and ready to play his best.

When the two met, Gettis had just transferred to Fort Zumwalt West from Nashville, Tenn. About to begin his senior year, he knew no one at his new school but planned to continue his already-successful football career. Moe, a sophomore, was the team’s quarterback and been playing with his teammates for years. Although he was two years younger than Gettis, he reached out to him, both as a friend and as somewhat of a mentor about the Fort Zumwalt West team.

“How do you meet people in the summer in high school?” Moe said. “I was like, ‘Hey, I’ll be your friend.’”

From the start, Moe showed Gettis the ropes at his new high school, both on the field and off. The two played together on offense — Moe as quarterback and Gettis as running back — and began to spend time together more and more outside of school. Not only were they linked by their love of football and basketball, they also both enjoyed video games. Most importantly, each valued staying out of trouble and focusing on school and sports.

“We helped be a positive influence on each other,” Gettis said.

When it came time for Gettis to decide where to play college football, Moe took a proactive role once again. A lifelong Missouri fan, Moe had his mind made up even as a sophomore: he wanted to be a Tiger, and he wanted his new friend to play football with him again in two years.

“I think I had more of an influence on him coming to Mizzou than he did on me,” Moe said. “I was a Missouri fan. I liked the school since I was a little kid, and so when he moved in, immediately I saw what kind of athlete he was and started thinking.”

When Gettis received an offer from Missouri about halfway through his senior season, he wasn’t sure if he should commit. Moe, however, didn’t see it as a choice.

“I was like, ‘Commit! Go, dude. I’ll meet you up there in two years,’” Moe said.

Although Gettis had other choices, including Tennessee, Mississippi and Kansas, he valued Moe’s opinion and decided that the Missouri program was the right one for him. He verbally committed in late October 2006.

“I thought that was cool, and all I had to do was work hard and earn a scholarship and I’d be playing with him again in two years,” Moe said.

When Gettis left for Columbia before the 2007 season, the two stayed close. They spoke multiple times each week, and Moe attended as many of his former teammate’s games as possible. In addition, Gettis made it back to Fort Zumwalt West for homecoming each year to support the younger quarterback. Their friendship in the two-year separation remained largely the same.

It wasn’t until Moe arrived at Missouri before the 2009 season that the players' friendship began to evolve. Until then, Moe had been the experienced one and Gettis the newcomer, and that was no longer the case. Gettis had already adjusted to college football and moved from running back to cornerback, and Moe was, for the first time, the new kid on the turf.

Although he’s two years older, Gettis for the first time had more experience with the team he and Moe were playing on, and he knew that it was his turn to help his friend adjust and fit in. Moe said that most freshmen hang out with one another, but that he relied on Gettis to help him get to know the older players. The summer before the season, Moe lived with Gettis and was able to get to know his more experienced teammates.

Bonding with his new team was not the only challenge Moe faced last season. He also switched positions, from quarterback to wide receiver, and Gettis was there to help him through the bumpier parts of his transition. After Moe dropped a ball in his first game, Gettis reassured him that it wasn’t the end of the world.

“I just told him to remain positive and keep practicing hard and focusing, because I knew T.J. (Moe) would be a great player,” Gettis said. “He works too hard, he’s too good of a player to be an average athlete.”

Gettis was right—Moe has developed into far more than an average athlete. The 2010 season has seen Moe transform into the team’s leading wide receiver, and for the first time since 2006, both he and Gettis are starting for the same team. Although they’re no longer on the field at the same time, both are proud of how far they’ve come and excited to be starting together again. Excited, but far from surprised. 

“I planned on this like four years ago,” Moe said.

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