Zack Moss: Quiet Confidence


University of Utah senior running back Zack Moss (2) rushes with the ball after taking a handoff from University of Utah senior quarterback Tyler Huntley (1) in an NCAA Football game vs. UCLA at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, UT on Saturday November 16, 2019.(Photo by Curtis Lin | Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Brayden Ramsay, Sports Writer


You know him as an NFL-caliber football player, maybe even as a Utah Football all-time record holder, or quite possibly as that running back that you’re glad you never have to line up against. To those who know him best, he is someone who is always willing to lend a helping hand and a quiet warrior who leads by example.

Zack Moss came to Utah four years ago as part of a three-headed monster that we know today as the Hallandale Trio. Since stepping foot on campus, Moss has become arguably the greatest running back to ever don the Utah uniform. Becoming the greatest to ever do it didn’t come without its share of adversity, but maybe it’s the adversity that helped create the man we know today.

“[Adversity] drove me. I remember the Cal game a few years ago vividly. It was one of the most painful games I’ve ever played in, and it drove me to get to better heights and to prove the type of player that I am and to prove the type of man I am,” Moss said. “Sitting here now a couple years after my freshman year and after a couple injuries, it’s taught me to fight through everything and that adversity doesn’t always last.”

The Cal game Moss was referring to was a 2016 matchup that saw both teams wrapped up in a close one, coming down to the wire. When the Utes found themselves down 23-28 on the 2-yard line with fourteen seconds remaining, Moss’ number was called. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to punch it in to give the Utes the victory.

University of Utah junior running back Zack Moss (2) broke loose while rushing in an NCAA football game vs. Weber State at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, UT on Thursday August 30, 2018. (Photo by Curtis Lin | Daily Utah Chronicle)

Moss also suffered a few injuries throughout his Utah career. In 2016, Moss missed two games due to injury. Then in 2018, in the midst of arguably his best season as a Ute to that point, tragedy struck again. A knee injury would sideline the junior running back for the remainder of the season, which would include Utah’s first ever Pac-12 Championship game and first ever Holiday Bowl berth.

Adversity doesn’t always last — words that Moss has exemplified ten-fold through his play in 2019.

This season, Moss has broken the all-time rushing yards record previously owned by Utah great Eddie Johnson. He has also surpassed Del Rogers’ all-time rushing touchdown record and Devontae Booker and John White’s career 100-yard games. He also has the chance to break the all-time all-purpose yards record among others by the time he finishes his career as a Ute.

“I couldn’t have scripted it any better,” Moss said. “[Breaking the records] was definitely a goal, and now that we’ve checked some of those things off, I’m still trying to do some big things here and trying to make my name stay here.”

And his name will absolutely stay here. With how the season has gone so far, it’s a bit strange to think that key members such as Moss almost didn’t make their way back to Utah after a massive 2018 showcase. After last year, many believed that Moss would take his talents and head to the NFL. Would Utah fans have been disappointed? Sure. Would they understand the move had it been made? Absolutely.

On a brisk January afternoon, Moss sent euphoria through Ute Nation as a post on Twitter revealed that he would be returning for his senior season in 2019.

“This is the whole reason why I came back. I envisioned this for this team. I know the type of guys we have on this team and the type of coaches we have and to come back out here and do it one more time for our fans is big.” Moss said. “Not just myself, but we have Leki [Fotu], Julian [Blackmon], and a lot of guys that came back. We all saw what was special with this team and now ten games in, were sitting right where we want to be, and where we had envisioned we’d be.”

Moss came back better than ever, punishing those who try to bring him down on a first contact and racing for 90-yard touchdowns. Moss’ determination to reach the second and third levels by lowering his pads and driving his feet inspire not only Utah fans but even the running back’s own teammates.

Jordan Wilmore, Moss’ teammate, said, “[The way he runs] influences me a lot because he shows me what I can work on with my game and what I can work on in general.”

Wilmore isn’t only inspired by Moss’ on the field accomplishments, but also the man off the field. Moss’ big season is only a small reflection of the kind of person he is.

“He’s helped me in many ways. I observe what he does and he gives me little tips now and then and shows me the ins and outs of Utah,” Wilmore said. “He’s really cool. He’s not the typical guy on the team who’s a jerk to his teammates, he’s cool to everybody and just a cool person to be around.”

University of Utah junior running back Zack Moss (2) eyes the Jumbotron during the Utah Red and White Game at Rice Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, UT on Saturday April 14, 2018.(Photo by Curtis Lin/ Daily Utah Chronicle)

In Moss’ spare time, he enjoys playing basketball and being outside. If he was to play a five-on-five pickup game, he knew automatically who’d be on his team and who he’d square off against.

“For my teammates, I’d go with Kobe [Bryant], Shaq [O’Neal], Michael Jordan, and [Stephen] Curry,” Moss said. “Then I’d go against Magic [Johnson], Kareem [Abdul-Jabbar], a young D-Wade, Vince Carter, and a young Dwight Howard.”

Moss is a man of many talents. Basketball is definitely at the top of the list, and he also enjoys playing a bit of tennis now and again. There is one unique talent that Moss says he has that people might not know. “I don’t really lose in 2K,” he said proudly with a sly grin and a quick laugh.

After this hall-of-fame battle on the basketball court or time beating up on his friends in video games, you might find him up in the mountains. He didn’t go to the beach too much growing up, but has come to fall in love with Utah’s majestic backdrops since coming to Salt Lake City.

“You can’t beat scenery like this. It’s quiet out here and it’s just perfect,” Moss said.

Scenery you can’t beat. To Moss, this may describe the mountains. That same term, though, can also be used by Utah fans to describe a Saturday afternoon watching Number 2 handle opposing defenses.


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