SALT LAKE CITY — Zack Moss has made history at the University of Utah. The senior running back enters his finale with the Utes owning seven school records, He’s on the verge of getting a couple of more in the Alamo Bowl against Texas on Dec. 31.
Moss, the Pac-12’s Offensive Player of the Year and an All-American, opted to return for one more game with the program instead of getting an early start on preparation for the NFL draft.
However, it wasn’t necessarily a slam dunk that he would do so.
“I had some things to iron out, me personally on my side of things, to come back and play,” Moss said. “Wholeheartedly the whole time I wanted to play. I got some confirmation on some things and I was able to go ahead and bring the good news to myself and my coaches.”
Moss explained that if you’re healthy enough, “then you should go ahead and play with your guys.”
The game in San Antonio will cap a stellar year for Moss, who broke team records for career highs in rushing yards (4,010), rushing attempts (696), total touchdowns (41), rushing touchdowns (38), 100-yard rushing games (19) and 1,000-yard rushing seasons (3). He’s tied for the record with 15 rushing touchdowns in a season and is one score away from equaling the top mark for overall TDs (17).
Moss is also closing in on the team record for all-purpose yards. His total of 4,681 is only 75 away from breaking Steve Odom’s mark (4,755) set from 1971-73.
“He’s a dynamic player and what we have to do as an offensive unit — that’s players and coaches — is put Zack in a position to go out on a very high note,” said Utah offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig. “Zack’s got to put himself in that position as well. So I look forward to watching him play his final collegiate game.”
The former Florida prep star, who was a semifinalist for both the Maxwell Award and Doak Walker Award. He was the Pac-12 rushing leader with 1,359 yards.
Individual accolades, though, aren’t the primary motivation for Moss. He’s driven by team success as the 11th-ranked Utes seek their 12th victory.
“It’s be great to get a win — hoist up the trophy, have the confetti and all that stuff pouring down,” Moss said. “It would definitely be a memory. I want to see these guys not with the long faces but with a very happy face.”
Moss has obviously given the Utes plenty to smile about since his arrival from Hallandale High School in Florida with quarterback Tyler Huntley and wide receiver Demari Simpkins.
“You can’t really map it out. You can have aspirations, but I couldn’t sit here and tell you four years ago that I would be talking about this or records,” said Moss, who also mentioned playing in two Pac-12 championship games.
“It’s just been a blessing to be here. I’ve loved it,” he continued. “It’s definitely somewhere in my heart that I’ll always hold and treasure.”
Utah coach Kyle Whittingham acknowledged that Moss has had “a heck of a career” at Utah. He said there’s no doubt about that as the program’s first three-time 1,000-yard rusher and the other records that have been broken.
“He’s just adding on to what he’s already done,” Whittingham said. “He’s established quite a legacy here.”
Whittingham added that Moss is so talented and that’s the No. 1 thing. The 5-foot-10, 222-pounder has played in 44 career games for the Utes, making 36 starts.
“He’s got a ton of ability. He’s the whole package,” Whittingham said. “He’s got size. He’s got quickness, vision — speed to get outside. Great hands out of the backfield as we’ve seen all season long.”
Then there’s the ability Moss has to pick up blitzes and such.
“He does it all,” Whittingham said.
2019 Alamo Bowl
No. 11 Utah (11-2) vs. Texas (7-5)
Alamodome, San Antonio
Dec. 31, 5:30 pm. (MT)
Radio: ESPN 700AM