Mutz Poised to be Next Walk-On Success Story

Adam Archuleta. Levi Jones. Moey Mutz. All started out their maroon and gold careers as walk-ons. The first two not only earned a scholarship at ASU, but also went on to be NFL first round draft picks. Mutz may not have NFL prospect written all over him quite yet, but his journey to receiving a scholarship is just as inspiring as the two after mentioned Sun Devil legends. DevilsDigest sat down with the sophomore wide receiver and talked about his unlikely trek from Livermore, CA to Tempe, AZ.

"If someone told me back in 2001 that I would be a scholarship player," says Mutz, "I would probably not have believed them." The wide receiver explains that his goal when he first got to Tempe was to obtain that coveted scholarship status. However, his priorities quickly changed. "It was pretty rough when you come in as a walk-on, and you don't get treated the best," says Mutz. "Nobody knows who you are and you just have to prove yourself. So I went from wanting to get a scholarship to wanting to get better and improve every day."

Much like other walk-ons in Division I, Mutz was not too happy with the scholarships offers he was receiving, and was seeking greener pastures. "The only school who offered me was St. Mary's - an I-AA School in California," recalls the sophomore. "One of my cousins encouraged me to apply to ASU, because he had been down here. I have another cousin who was living in Gilbert and he also pushed me to apply." The receiver says that he quickly got accepted, and following the mailing of his football tape, the invitation from Coach Koetter's staff to walk on quickly followed. The fact that other schools dragged their feet was enough reason for Mutz not to pursue any other opportunities and stick with the Sun Devils.

A walk-on's performance on the field isn't only evaluated by coaches but also by the players lining up against him. The decision to award Moey Mutz a scholarship was handed down by the ASU coaches. Nevertheless, just for good measure some of Mutz's teammates were quick to endorse the wide receiver and his abilities to the team's coaching staff. "When I was competing against some of the guys the defensive players said I should have a scholarship and things like that," Mutz says. "I don't know if anyone said anything to (wide receivers) Coach Jackson but I know the defensive players talked to the defensive coaches about me." Mutz says that during this year's spring practice, following the praise of his teammates, he realized that his dream of obtaining a scholarship was about to be fulfilled.

Mutz said that he didn't celebrate when he learned that he was going to be awarded a scholarship. That's not to say that some other family members may have rejoiced. "I talked to coach Jackson at the spring meetings after spring practice and then I went to talk to coach Koetter and he told me that I got a scholarship," says Mutz. "I called my parents and let them know first off, but there were no big celebrations. Maybe my parents celebrated after they found out they don't have to pay for my school anymore. (smile)"

Since his arrival in Tempe, with the aid of the strength and conditioning staff, Mutz has become the second fastest receiver on the squad. When he arrived in 2001 he ran a 4.6, and since then he was able to shave two tenths of a second to bring down his 40-yard dash time to a 4.4. When it came down to pure football skills, he credits Coach Jackson for giving him much needed guidance and assisting him in the transition from high school to college football. "Coming out of high school everything that I did was out of talent," Mutz remarks. "Coach Jackson taught me a lot about releases, and route techniques. He was being hard on me on some techniques to get me to improve and I feel that I got a lot out of that."

While Mutz may be a solid receiver these days, he was a fine cornerback when he played for Granada High School. In fact, one of his best games ever involved picking off current ASU quarterback Sam Keller three times in one game. To put matters in perspective, Keller had only eight picks all of that year. The humble sophomore wasn't about to rub that in Keller's face upon his arrival in Tempe. However, that's not to say that his teammates did the same. "When Sam came here I kinda knew who he was and he knew who I was," says Mutz. "I actually never said anything to him about that. After the scrimmage in Tontozona when I was catching a ball from him, some guys were saying stuff to him on the sidelines." At one point Mutz couldn't contain himself anymore, and told Keller, "It was a natural thing for me to catch his balls-either intercepting them or catching them as a receiver…he was just laughing about that. He can't be too mad at me because he is still throwing me the ball. (smile)"

Just like his fellow receivers, Mutz have heard the repeated questions on how his group will perform after the departure of Shaun McDonald to the NFL. Mutz praises McDonald and what he has accomplished last year, but also points out that the receiver core will be much improved in 2003. "McDonald did a great job, but he's gone and we have to move on," exclaims Mutz. "We have a great young group, and everybody has gotten better and knows what they're doing. A lot of us were kinda of shaky last year and didn't know what we were doing, but now it's different. I think we're gonna show everyone how much we has improved as a group."

Mutz has run regularly with the second team during the pre-season. He says that he had to improve many aspects of his game in order to place himself in this situation. "I would say I improved the most on my route technique," states Mutz. "Working on defensive backs, making them do what you want them to do…out of school you just rush off the line. In college, I had to improve my release technique, and be more patient."

The mild manner receiver would never be mistaken for a cocky or overconfident player. Starting your career as a non-scholarship player can entrench humility even further. Is this virtue essential for a walk-on in order to obtain a coveted scholarship? "I think you do learn to work hard when you don't come in with a scholarship," replies Mutz. "Being a walk-on has shown me how to work your way up. When I see other walk-ons and what they are going through, I can relate to them. It is a tough time and I am always really helpful with them." Mutz added that when did finally achieve his scholarship dream he realized "How much the scholarship players have it good. But I'm not taking it for granted now, because I didn't start out as one."

Moey Mutz kicked off his ASU career as an unassuming wide receiver in pursuit of a scholarship. Not only did he accomplish that feat, but he's also likely to see extensive action during the 2003 season. His personal expectations are quite simple, but also very telling of his character: "I just want to continue to work hard and get better, and help the team improve. In the beginning I wanted a scholarship, and then it turned into just wanting to get better. That's still my goal, to get better every day and take advantage of your opportunities." Judging by his short tenure at ASU, the possibilities for Mutz are endless.

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