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Recruiting: Jacksonville's Moses parts red tape for COVID-year scholarship money, commits to JSU

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Jacksonville's Jackson Moses is recognized for senior night before the Golden Eagles' season-opener against St. John Paul II. His personal quarantine earlier this season and Jacksonville's COVID-19-related forfeits to Piedmont and Handley the past two weeks trimmed four games from his senior season. (Photo by Trent Penny/The Anniston Star)

JACKSONVILLE — Jackson Moses found football scholarships hard to come by in the year of COVID-19. Like his last name suggests, he found a way.

A senior and Class 4A-6A All-Calhoun County first-team linebacker and key figure in Jacksonville’s recent breakthrough seasons, he announced his commitment to Jacksonville State University through social media Saturday.

He graduated from Jacksonville High School this month and will enroll at JSU as a sophomore, with 47 dual-enrollment credit hours. He found scholarship money the non-traditional route, but he found it.

“I got a full ride through the International House,” he said. “That’s where I’m staying at, so I have a full ride, and then I get to bring in a little more money each year through other academic scholarships. It actually worked out really well.”

Moses was a starter and key defender on some of Jacksonville’s greatest teams. The Golden Eagles went 30-8 over the past three seasons, with region championships in 2018 and 2019 and a Class 4A runner-up finish in 2019.

Jacksonville posted its first undefeated regular season in 2018 and made its deepest playoff run in 2019, advancing past the second round for the first time in school history.

“Jackson is an outstanding football player with a tremendous work ethic,” Jacksonville coach Clint Smith said. “He's a leader on and off the field. We are excited to see what the future holds for him at JSU.”

The Golden Eagles went 7-4 and reached the second round in 2020, finishing second to eventual 4A champion Handley in region play. The season saw Moses miss four games, two on his individual quarantine and two that Jacksonville had to forfeit because of positive COVID-19 tests and contact tracing.

That cut into Moses’ chances to build up film for college coaches and statistics. COVID-19 also forced cancelation of college team camps over the summer, severely limiting Moses’ chances to market himself.

Because of COVID-19, the NCAA granted current college seniors an extra season of eligibility, keeping scholarships occupied.

“I had some smaller schools looking at me, some NAIA schools, Division II schools,” he said. “It really was hard, because of the COVID. The dead period got extended, so I didn’t get to go visit any of the other Division I schools I was talking to.

“I got to visit JSU and go look at them multiple times since before my sophomore year.”

The 6-foot-0, 180-pound Moses played in seven games this past season, compiling 60 tackles with eight tackles for loss and four sacks. He’ll get to make up for lost time five minutes from home, at JSU.

“I’m super excited,” he said. “All my friends, family and teammates will get to see me play, so I’m super excited to stay home.”

Sports Writer Joe Medley: 256-235-3576. On Twitter: @jmedley_star.