Steelers wide receiver Derek Moye was a 6-foot tall 12-year-old equipment manager for the Rochester Rams. His future high school coach noticed him then, writes Beaver County Times reporter Chris Bradford.
"He's a great character kid. Never in trouble, very humble," Gene Matsook told Bradford. "He put in a lot of time and work and he has the height and athleticism to make it. We're pretty happy for him."
Moye made the Steelers' roster, edging out rookie sixth-round pick Justin Brown for the Steelers' final wide receiver spot - a position possibly vacated by a shoulder injury to Plaxico Burress that put him on injured reserve for the season.
It's an odd twist of fate for Moye, who was 14 years old when Burress notched career-highs in receptions (78) and yards (1,325) for the Steelers' 10-5-1 team - winning the first-ever AFC North championship. Burress was 25 that year, the same age as Moye. Burress had two full NFL seasons under his belt by that point, Moye hasn't played a down in a regular season game.
Moye's 6-foot-5 frame could be mistaken for Burress's lanky body, but Moye's effort has made up for the fact he doesn't have the level of talent Burress had. In fact, it may have been Moye's effort that pushed him ahead of Brown for that final roster spot.
An errant Landry Jones pass intended for Moye was intercepted by Panthers defensive back Josh Norman at Carolina's 8-yard line. Moye ran him down all the way back at Pittsburgh's 22 and made the tackle.
It was reminiscent of a play he made back at Rochester. Quarterback Dan Camp spoke to Bradford about their high school days, with one play standing out.
"It was right before halftime, the kid from Duquesne came down with it but Derek stripped him at the 1-yard line and scored," Camp said. "We ended up losing but it goes to show you how, like the other night against Carolina, he never gave up. It wasn't a touchdown but it's still my fondest memory."
Camp also said Moye's father, Jermaine "Jerry" "B.B." Moye, was his biggest fan.
Jerry passed away July 3, just three weeks before the Steelers began training camp in Latrobe, Pa. He never got to see his son make the Steelers' roster. He was just 52-years-old.
It's easy to say perhaps the silver lining in Burress's injury - very possibly a career-ender - was the opening for a good kid working hard amid horrible personal circumstances. It's maybe insensitive to say Burress, at age 36, going over for the year was a blessing for Moye.
It's also hard to ignore either of those angles. There's little reason to believe Moye was added to the roster out of sympathy of the loss of his father, or even because he put in the effort to run down a defensive back in the second half of a meaningless preseason game. Moye led the Steelers in catches (10) and receiving yards (149) this preseason. There's more than just his height keeping him on this team.
Common opinion would be no one has seen Burress run down a defensive back in a regular season game, let alone a preseason game - even when he was 25. Perhaps spurred on by the ghost of his father, Moye did. He did a lot this preseason.
And he made the team. Even if he doesn't catch one pass in his career, what he's accomplished is worthy of remembrance.
More from Behind the Steel Curtain:
- Steelers roster cuts: Everything we know
- Jonathan Dwyer unclaimed on waivers
- Meet Cody Wallace, the Steelers newest roster member
- Steelers sign eight to the practice squad
- NFL Practice Squad rules and which former 2013 Steelers are eligibile
- Getting a feel for the 2013 Steelers
- Miller's status still unknown after activation from PUP
- Dwyer may stay inside the division
- Redman made the club from the tub
- Projecting the Steelers game-day actives
- A punter's lot is not a happy one
- Felix Jones runs the stretch better than Dwyer Follow @NealCoolong