Making a Name for Himself
This story originally appeared in Cal's Kickoff Game Progam on Nov. 3, 2007.
By Anna Oleson-Wheeler, Cal Media Relations
When he was growing up in a small town outside of Modesto, senior linebacker Justin Moye was always hearing stories about his father's athleticism on the gridiron. Justin's dad, Jeff, was a star football player in high school and college, playing on Cal's 1975 conference championship team. These days, the tables have turned, and the fans are singing Justin's praise.
'It was pretty tough because where I grew up, everybody knows my dad and how good of an athlete he was, he was one of the best,' Moye said of his dad, who was a standout at the same high school as Justin, Central Catholic in Modesto. 'Now, some of the fans call me by name and I didn't think people knew who I was. Little kids coming up to me, `What's going on, Moye,' it's a pretty cool experience.'
While many schools were recruiting the 6-1 linebacker, who doubled as a quarterback in high school, he did not have a scholarship offer from his father's alma mater, Cal. Despite having to pay his own way, Moye opted to follow his dream, and his father's footsteps, to play for the Golden Bears.
Transitioning from high school athletics and academics to the rigorous standards at Berkeley was difficult for Moye. Thanks to Cal strength and conditioning coach John Krasinski, Moye gradually transformed into a bigger and stronger player. Moye does not shy away from the fact that walking on to the team and earning the subsequent playing time was an uphill battle for him, but that the coaches always gave him an equal opportunity to prove himself.
'I kind of questioned my decision to come to Cal the first year or two I was here. I was behind so many good linebackers and was thinking that there was no way I'd ever play,' Moye said. 'At first I thought it would be impossible for any of the coaches to get a look at me, but the coaches never cheated me.'
After redshirting his true freshman year in 2003 and not seeing any varsity action the following season, things started to pick up for Moye in 2005 when he played in all 12 games. Moye notes that the tide turned before his junior year when he got the opportunity to change his jersey number. After spending his first seasons wearing number 56, Tedford gave Moye permission to switch to number 16, the same jersey his dad Jeff wore during his time at Cal.
Although he knew he was changing numbers six months before the season, Justin kept the change a secret from his dad. Knowing that Jeff would notice Justin's new number when he would attend fall practices, Justin surprised his dad just before fall camp started.
'My mom, my dad and I were sitting around the fire at our cabin in Tahoe, and I told him that I had changed my number to 16,' More said. 'He was pretty excited, it was a good night.'
Shortly thereafter, Moye was given a scholarship and took his place as a regular linebacker for the Bears. Moye, who admits he is a very superstitious person after years of playing baseball, credits his increased playing time and scholarship to the jersey switch. He finished his junior campaign in 2006 with 23 tackles, including nine solo takedowns, and started three games, playing in all 13.
Moye has relished his time spent on the field at Memorial Stadium and in the classroom at Cal. The Moye family has been tailgating in Berkeley since Jeff was a player, and Justin is proud to carrying on the legacy that his father began over 30 years ago.
'Playing in the same place my dad played is pretty good, it's been a great experience,' Moye said. 'He's never put any pressure on me to follow in his footsteps but I've always wanted to live up to him, always looked up to him, he's been my hero.'
Following his graduation in December, Moye plans a return to his home in the Central Valley to pursue a career in sales. A three-time all-league selection in football and baseball as a prepster, Moye looks to return to his high school alma mater as a football or baseball coach.
'I definitely see myself coaching. I love helping people get better,' Moye said. 'I can pass on the knowledge that my coaches have given me about sports, how to be a better person and how to be a hard worker.'