The ball flew threw the air as Osirus Mitchell jumped up to catch it. Quarterback Tommy Stevens was back in good health and starting for Mississippi State University in a 54-24 win over the University of Arkansas.
As a coach, Joe Moorhead is like a father to his players. Joe even said that he felt like Stevens, a graduate quarterback from Indianapolis, Indiana, was like a son to him.
In the 54-24 win over Arkansas, Stevens walked out in front of his family who traveled to Fayetteville to see him play. Stevens said his family is who he plays the game for.
“It takes a bigger picture out of it just being football when you think about who you do this for," Stevens said. "They were here today which made it cooler.”
The oldest of five children, Stevens has two sisters, Kayla and Livia, and two brothers, Cameron and Aycen. Stevens said that it was really great to play the game in front of his family.
“They have sacrificed so much for me,” Stevens said. “I remember being real little, 10 or 11 years old, everyone in the back of the van piling up and come watch me play baseball. Or everyone coming to my basketball games.”
Stevens said that the exercises Moorhead introduced to the team has helped players learn a lot more about each other. It also reminds the players that football is more than just a game.
“I think it was really cool too, to hear other people’s whys,” Stevens said. “To possibly learn things about guys that aren’t necessarily easy to talk about when dealing with adversity. It was really cool to open up the big picture.”
That big picture often encapsulates sacrifice of time and energy. Fire and steel surrounded Joe Moorhead’s father when he worked for 35 years so that he could forge a better future for his family.
Murph Moorhead not only worked in the steel mills of Pittsburgh in order to provide for his family, but he also worked as a janitor and a bartender. In a press release from when he was first hired as head coach, Joe said that the sacrifices his father made were so that he wouldn’t have to work extra jobs.
“Ultimately our job as parents is to make sure our children's' lives are better than our own,” Joe Moorhead said. “I can't be more appreciative of my father.”
Now Joe is in his second year at MSU, and Murph is still supporting his son by attending several post game press conferences.
Before the Arkansas game, the MSU football players wrote "why" letters, letters that talked about why they play the game of football. Joe said he dedicated the game to his mom and dad.
“He gave up a lot of his life and things he wanted to do to make sure my brother, sister and I were in a good position,” Joe Moorhead said. “He taught me when times were adverse lower your back and your neck and keep working. I’m proud to dedicate this game to my mom and dad.”
The annual military appreciation game will be against the University Alabama this Saturday. A chair to honor prisoners of war and soldiers missing in action will be unveiled. There will also be five additional chairs located near the Bully statue at midfield.
A veteran from each of the five service branches will be recognized and occupy the five new chairs during upcoming football games. Like Joe’s dad Murph, who is an army veteran, there will be many other veterans in Davis Wade Stadium who will have the opportunity to be honored.
“I think you cannot be thankful enough for those kinds of selfless acts of people to be able to provide for the greater good,” Joe Moorhead said. “That is certainly something that myself, our staff, and our team are really going to show our appreciation for on Saturday.”