Gilbert Moye Weathers Life's Storms

As predictions of a treacherous storm bearing down on his hometown began to grow more urgent, Gilbert Moye was unfazed. They said bad weather was coming our way, but I didn't think it would hit us or be that bad," Moye recalls. "A day later we came back to Jasper and there was a tree in the middle of our house."

EDITOR Note: Article is re-printed from Inside Mizzou Magazine
The Moye home in Jasper, Tex., had been hammered by the storm and split down the middle by a fallen tree. Those who lived there – Moye, his grandparents, his mother and a few more family members – had expected some damage, but not this. This was a life-changing disaster. They packed a car and abandoned their home of nearly 30 years.

"It was totaled," says Palace Moye, Gilbert's mother. "No way to repair it."

"It was pretty, pretty bad," Gilbert says in his unassumingly soft, East Texas-drawled voice. "I lost everything."

Most everything they owned was ruined. Without time to cry, they headed to Gilbert's aunt's house in Lufkin, 45 minutes away. There, 34 people wedged into a one-bedroom apartment for four days that passed like months.

The previous school year, Moye had quarterbacked Jasper High all the way to the state championship game, where it lost a heartbreaker to Gilmer, 49-47. Moye, nonetheless, had a coming-of-age performance, passing for 174 yards and rushing for 251, suddenly becoming a known commodity in the nation's hotbed state for college football recruiting.

And he was only a sophomore.

Now, though, Moye was a long way from stardom.

He returned to Jasper, but with everything out of order, including the schools, kids his age were spending their days walking the streets.

It wasn't a good environment for someone with Moye's potential, for an electric athlete of whom, his next coach Gary Martel would say flatly, "He can throw it and then go get it."

His grandmother, who had always reminded him that idle hands are the devil's playground, sent him back to his aunt's place in Lufkin.

There, he would enroll at 550-student Diboll High, where his aunt, Meredith Shaw, is physical education teacher and a coach. He had cousins and childhood friends there, so considering the circumstances, it wouldn't be too bad.

The first member of the large family to earn a college degree, Shaw was doing well for herself. And she'd always shared a natural bond with her nephew.

"You've been blessed," she told him, "whether you believe it or not."

She gave him a weekly allowance and kept close track of him. His grades hadn't been the best, but at Diboll, he'd have far fewer distractions. And fearful of hurting his pride, she didn't tell him some of his new clothes were being furnished by Rita assistance funds. The family is a prideful bunch.

"We really don't" have a choice," Shaw says, "because we came from nothing."

Shaw's apartment was located inside Lufkin High territory, but at Diboll, aunt and nephew could carpool to and from school. Both had practice and games after school, so it would work out nicely. Or so it seemed.

When the local school district's athletic body got wind of his transfer, it ruled immediately that he had transferred to Diboll for athletic purposes, since Shaw's apartment sat inside Lufkin High boundaries. The family appealed, but the state's high school association backed the ruling.

Violently chased from his home and with hardly a thing to his name, Moye now would have to sit out varsity sports for an entire calender year from the day of his arrival.

"I was crushed," he says.

His situation became fodder for discussion and media coverage throughout the region. Despite the outcry, it was clear the decision-makers weren't going to budge.

"They made it seem like he was a multi-million dollar athlete. He wasn't the only athlete that left Jasper and didn't go back, but they made a big chaotic fuss over that situation," Shaw says.

Moye had been touted as one of the top 20 juniors in the state after his title-game performance, but he was out of sight and out of mind for college scouts. His recruiting mail slowed to a halt. His dream of playing for the Texas Longhorns had been swept away in the rain. But he didn't feel sorry for himself. He ran the scout team and never once complained.

Moye explains, "You've got to leave the past in the past. I'm laying the foundation. You gotta look at the future.'

Allowed to play on junior varsity, he swallowed his pride and gave himself marching orders: take out all of the frustration on anyone who dared challenge him.

'Punish them,' he told himself. ‘Don't show no pity for anyone.'

A lithe 6-foot-2, 200 pounds with prized athleticism and speed, he was a J.V. player's nightmare.

"He's got that extra gear. He can flat go," Martel says.

In his first game, he rushed three times for more than 100 yards. He felt like he was playing Playstation football.
"It was fun," he says, giggling. Finally, Oct. 6 arrived. It had been a full year since his transfer, and he was free to play for Diboll's varsity team against Splendora High.
"Adrenaline, right from the kickoff to the fourth quarter," he recalls. "It was just pumping, the whole game."

On his third carry, he broke free and sprinted 56 yards for a touchdown. He finished the game with 150 yards on nine carries. In seven games, Moye completed 35 of 66 passes for 601 yards, five interceptions and nine touchdowns. He ran 91 times for 626 yards and 10 touchdowns. While powerhouses such as Texas and Louisiana State seemed to have forgotten about him, Missouri defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus stayed in constant contact.

"I think that made the kid understand that somebody really cared about him," Martel says. "Missouri did a fantastic job."

When the season ended, he took an official visit to Missouri. The town reminded him of College Station, Tex., where he'd spent time before. Everyone was friendly. It felt like family.

"He needs a family situation," Martel says. So he verbally committed. On Feb. 7, he made it official by signing his National Letter of Intent to play for MU.

Rated the No. 25 quarterback in the nation by, Moye seems most likely to play elsewhere. Though he's got a great knack for throwing on the move, his athleticism may better translate to Big 12 football at another position.

At Diboll, he played safety for the first time in his career, and he was a force. Missouri's coaching staff "said I could see time at flanker, running back, free safety – who knows?" Moye says.

With his grades better than ever and graduation on the horizon, Moye can't wait to get to Columbia. He loves everything – well, almost everything -- about the place.

"It's kind of cold," he says. "But I can get used to it."

Then again, that goes without saying.

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