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Bob Pruett: 'If Y'all Don’t Take Him...'

Posted Sep 7, 2017

Bob Pruett’s message was loud and clear.

The former head coach at Marshall University had a front-row seat for Randy Moss’ college career, a two-season run that saw him terrorize opposing secondaries and become one of the nation’s most popular players.

So when Marshall held its Pro Day in the spring of 1998, numerous NFL teams rolled into Huntington, West Virginia, to probe Pruett about his star wide receiver.

Some coaches didn’t listen.

“There were two coaches sitting in my office on Pro Day,” Pruett said. “They said, ‘Tell me about him.’ And at the end of that conversation I looked at them and said, ‘If ya’ll don’t take him and he’s still available, it’ll be the biggest mistake you’ve ever made in the draft, and it could eventually cost you your job.’

“Two seasons later, they both were gone,” added Pruett, who opted not to name the coaches.

Pruett had gotten to know Moss through the recruiting process a few years earlier, when the coach was the defensive coordinator at the University of Florida.

A former player at Marshall, Pruett returned to his alma mater to be the head coach for the 1996 season, staying until 2004.

Pruett compiled a 94-23 record during his tenure, and it just so happened that his first season was Moss’ first season, too.

“I got to know him, and I’m also from West Virginia,” Pruett said. “We got along well, and he fit right in.”

Moss put up staggering numbers with the Thundering Herd.

He totaled 174 receptions for 3,529 yards (an average of 20.3 yards per catch) with 54 receiving touchdowns. Moss had 15 career 100-yard games and once racked up 288 receiving yards on just eight receptions.

Pruett succinctly summed up Moss’ career by saying the wide receiver put Marshall University on the map.

“I love him to death,” Pruett said. “I’m so proud that I had the privilege of coaching an athlete like that. He was great for the state of West Virginia and great for Marshall University.

“He’s got phenomenal talent,” Pruett said. “If you’re composing a wide receiver or building one like a robot, the skills Randy had are exactly how you’d do it. He’s tall, could jump out of the gym, could run faster than the wind, great hands.

“And Randy would come to work. He wasn’t a problem. Any issue you had with Randy, it was because he didn’t feel like you were using him,” Pruett continued. “He felt like he could score, and he could. He scored 55 touchdowns in two years for us. It was very simple. If they had one (defensive back) on him, we’d check out of what we were doing and throw him the ball. Our guy was better than your guy.”