MADISON – Brent Moss, who helped Racine Park High School win the WIAA Division 1 state football title in 1988 and led Wisconsin to a Big Ten title in 1993 and a victory over UCLA in the 1994 Rose Bowl, died Sunday.
He was 50.
The cause of death was not immediately known.
“It is sad,” said Steve Stark, who was the starting right guard on the 1993 team. “It really is.”
Moss left Park with 4,678 yards and 78 touchdowns. His final high school game was a 34-31 overtime loss to Waukesha South in the 1989 Division 1 state semifinals.
Moss played three-plus seasons at UW after sitting out the 1990 season.
He rushed 61 times for 219 yards as a freshman in 1991 and then improved to 739 yards on 165 carries as a sophomore in 1992.
Brent Moss teamed with Terrell Fletcher to help Badgers earn a share of Big Ten title in 1993
Moss and fellow tailback Terrell Fletcher helped UW break through in 1993 under fourth-year head coach Barry Alvarez.
Moss rushed 312 times for 1,637 yards, an average of 5.2 yards per carry, and 16 touchdowns and was named the Big Ten MVP as UW finished 6-1-1 in the Big Ten and shared the title with Ohio State.
Moss capped the 1993 season by rushing for 158 yards and two touchdowns in UW’s 21-16 victory over UCLA in the Rose Bowl. He was named the game MVP and Alvarez often said if he had to choose one tailback to convert a crucial short-yardage situation into a first down that he would select Moss.
Fletcher rushed 165 times for 996 yards, an average of 6.0 yards per carry, and nine touchdowns.
“Brent and Terrell were great to block for and they were both a lot of fun to play with,” said Stark, who was a redshirt sophomore in 1993.
Fletcher wrote on Twitter:
“RIP Brent Moss… We did a thing in our day. I hate that we did not become friends in time appreciate our magic. But we did work it out in time. You were one of the best to ever do it. Respect. #RIP #RosebowlMVP #RBU #OnWisconsin #teammates”
Moss appeared destined for an outstanding senior season in 1994 and perhaps an NFL career.
That all changed in November, however, when Moss was arrested for possession of crack cocaine and was subsequently suspended by Alvarez.
Moss was not selected in the NFL draft, but spent time with Dolphins and Rams
Moss finished the season with 833 yards and eight touchdowns on 156 carries and was not selected in the 1995 NFL draft.
He was invited to the Miami Dolphins’ training camp in 1995 but was cut. He signed with the St. Louis Rams and carried 22 times for 90 yards but was cut during training camp in 1996.
Moss had brief stints in the World League of American Football, the Arena Football League and the XFL.
He battled drug problems and was arrested several times. In 2017 he was sentenced to a year in prison and one year extended supervision on a felony charge for possession of cocaine.
“I wasn’t privy to any of that stuff until after it happened,” Stark said. “I just knew him as a really good person and a guy who worked hard every day and really cared about football and his teammates.
“Most people only see Brent for what happened his senior year, all the stuff off the field. I don’t think a lot of people know what a good guy he was. People that knew him realized he had his issues, but he was first and foremost a good dude.”
Moss played key role in Wisconsin’s Rose Bowl victory over UCLA
Moss always spoke fondly of the 1993 season and the victory over UCLA in Pasadena. Stark was asked to share his memories.
“If I’m honest,” he said, “I think about Barry Alvarez sitting in my living room when I was a senior in high school and making me believe that we would be there.
“And then just the feeling of having all of those people in that stadium from Wisconsin. Those are the things I remember the most.
“I remember a few bits and pieces of the game but for the most part I remember the sea of red in the stadium and the feeling of: Wow, we just went from 1-10 to this in a couple years. That was pretty awesome.”
Moss played a starring role in that turnaround.
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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Former Wisconsin Badgers running back, Rose Bowl MVP Brent Moss dies