Path to Draft 6: South Dakota St.'s Moss

A newcomer to football, Dale Moss boasts a height-speed combination unlike any receiver in the draft. NFL Scouting introduces you to this out-of-nowhere prospect.

Antonio Gates and Tony Gonzalez.

Jimmy Graham and Julius Peppers.

Dale Moss?

Who is Dale Moss?

It is a rare occurrence when a basketball player goes on to have great success on the gridiron later in his career, despite the recent trend of unearthing these fine athletes by National Football League teams.

The Chargers' Gates played basketball at Kent State, where he guided the Golden Flashes to a magical berth in the Elite Eight at the 2002 NCAA Tournament, while he averaged 16 points per game. The following season, he averaged 20.6 points per game. Gonzalez averaged 6.8 points and 5.4 rebounds for California during his junior season, as the Golden Bears advanced to the Sweet Sixteen at the 1997 NCAA Tournament.

Graham was never much of a scorer, but he was a superb rebounder and one of the top shot blockers during his career at the University of Miami. Peppers was an invaluable sixth man for one of college basketball's elite programs, North Carolina, where he averaged 7.1 points and four rebounds per game off the bench.

South Dakota State's Moss is a long way toward being mentioned in the same breath as those All-Pro football players, but he put on a dazzling display at Thursday's pro day featuring players from South Dakota and South Dakota State. The 6-foot-3 receiver put up numbers that rivaled any of the elite receivers – and beat most – at the Scouting Combine. He ran the 40 in 4.38 seconds with a 41.5-inch vertical leap. His three-cone drill of 6.32 seconds beat anyone – regardless of position – at the Combine.

Moss, a four-year letterman for the university's basketball team who used his fifth year of college eligibility to establish himself as one of the emerging draft prospects and an elite receiver at the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision level.

While basketball was Moss' emphasis it was football that's in his genes. His uncle, Johnny "The Jet" Rodgers, was a wing back at the University of Nebraska, where he helped the Huskers win the first two national titles in school history in 1970 and 1971, before becoming Nebraska's first Heisman winner in 1972. Forty years later, Rodgers still owns Nebraska records for receptions (143) and receiving yardage (2,479), and he was one of the greatest punt returners in NCAA history with seven touchdowns.

As for Moss, he saw limited action in the first two games of the season before going on a tear. In his final four games, he averaged 129 receiving yards, had three 100-yard performances and a pair of two-touchdown games. He finished the season with 61 catches for 949 yards and six touchdowns. In addition, he came up with crucial receptions that set up 17 touchdown drives and on two possessions that resulted in field goals.

Moss registered 47 first downs among his 61 catches, as he went on to convert 14 third-down tosses targeted to him and made another 15 catches inside the red zone. Thirteen of his catches covered at least 20 yards, and his 80-yard touchdown catch vs. Missouri State is the longest reception by a Jackrabbit since the university left the NCAA Division II ranks for competition at the Division I level after the 2007 season.

For a player that spent four seasons away from the game and did not join the football team until 2011 spring camp, he has also shown sure hands, dropping just one of 97 passes targeted to him.

Prior to his arrival at South Dakota State, Moss was a three-sport standout at Brandon Valley High School, where he lettered in basketball, football and track for the Lynx. On the gridiron, the team captain competed as a wide receiver and defensive back for head coach Curt Littau, earning All-Eastern South Dakota Football League first-team honors in each of his last two seasons, as he collected 89 passes for 1,125 yards combined, as a junior and senior.

In basketball, Moss also served as squad captain, as the guard averaged 18 points, seven rebounds and four assists his senior year, as he helped the team finish first in the Class AA District II ranks and earned a ranking of fourth in the state with a 23-2 record. The team Most Valuable Player was chosen Gatorade and South Dakota High School Activities Association Player of the Year in 2007.

Forsaking football upon his arrival at South Dakota State, Moss started four games as a freshman, seven as a sophomore and 15 as a junior. He had a banner final season for the hoops squad in 2010-11, starting all 31 games and finishing with career-best averages of 24.9 minutes, 4.5 rebounds and 7.6 points. He shot .539 from the field (89-of-165), making 11 three-pointers while dishing out 55 assists with 20 steals and 17 blocked shots.

While performing with the basketball team, the football staff saw great potential in Moss, especially with his tremendous leaping ability and toughness crashing the boards vs. men much bigger than him. He was convinced to join the football team for 2011 spring drills.

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Dave-Te Thomas has more than 40 years of experience scouting for the NFL. At NFL Scouting, Thomas handles a staff that evaluates and tests college players before the draft and prepares the NFL's official Draft Packet, which is distributed to all 32 teams prior to the draft.

Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at

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