The first play of Texas football’s season brought tears to the eyes of Joshua Moore’s family.
Just weeks before the start of the 2019 season, the redshirt sophomore receiver was arrested for carrying a gun without a license and later suspended for the season. But on the first play of the Longhorns’ 2020 season opener against UT-El Paso — Moore’s first game in almost two years — he caught a slant route from senior quarterback Sam Ehlinger and ran 78 yards to the end zone.
It was the first time Texas scored on the first play of the season since the Vince Young days.
“You may not believe me when I say this, but whenever I scored, my mom and my sister were sitting in the stands and they actually left the game to go to the restroom and cry,” Moore said in a Sept. 15 teleconference. “I talked to my dad after the game. He told me once I scored, he cried. It was such a surreal feeling. I would definitely rather see a smile on their faces than their faces that they had last year, so I'm blessed and I'm thankful.”
Now, suiting up for his first game on the Longhorns’ travel squad since 2018 as the team travels to Texas Tech this weekend, Moore can reflect on his time away from the field and evaluate the things he’s learned — how strong he is, who his real friends are and that he has a great support system.
Moore said he’s thankful for his fellow wide receivers who helped him get back on his feet last year, including junior Brennan Eagles and sophomore Al’Vonte Woodard, and he’s excited to be off the practice squad and playing on Saturdays again.
“It was good to see that I wasn't in this by myself, and I not only had a support system from my family but also from the guys on the team,” Moore said. “And honestly, that made me realize a lot. I'm thankful for them, and I'm just glad I'm here battling with them once again.”
Although Moore may have been going through his own mental battle, Ehlinger said he never saw his emotional side. He said Moore controlled his situation and learned from his mistakes.
“It'd be very easy after a trial like that, a guy that's 20, 21 years old, to kind of go in a hole, and he's done the exact opposite,” Ehlinger said in a Tuesday teleconference. “I think that showed a lot of guys on the team the type of guy he is.”
Head coach Tom Herman said Moore just went to practice for 13 weeks, put his head down and worked hard to get back on the playing field.
“Did he make everything he was supposed to make in terms of being where he was supposed to be for everything that was mandatory? Sure. He did that. But that’s the easy part,” Herman said in a Monday teleconference. “The hard part is doing it with a smile on your face and going down to the scout team for 13 weeks and getting pushed around a little bit by our defense and still coming back stronger and with an even better attitude the next day.”
Moore said he appreciates the little things in his college experience even more now that he’s back on the team, and he’s just thankful to be playing football again.
“I got what I deserved,” Moore said. “That was my punishment, I did my punishment, now I'm back.”