Virnel Moon is currently one of the starting wide receivers for the Colorado Mesa University football team. He moved to Grand Junction from San Diego, Calif. his freshman year to play for the Mavericks. Throughout his career at CMU, he has faced a few difficult turns; however, they have not stopped him from pursuing his passion for football.

Last season, Moon was removed from the team in the middle of the season for disciplinary issues. Once he was gone, Moon realized what he needed to do to prove himself to both his coaches and himself. He showed that he could handle the responsibilities that coincide with playing a NCAA sport and being a student.

As the current season approached, Moon worked harder than ever to prove to his coaches, teammates and peers that he had changed for the better. He had time to reflect on what was important and make a plan to get his life on track. With all the free time on his hands, Moon was able to put more effort into prioritizing, what he feels actually means something.

He trained with his goal in mind.

“I had to show the coaches that I really wanted to be a part of the team and have good grades,” Moon said. “[And] that I had grown from being away from football.”

The coaches, including Head coach Russ Martin, could see a difference in Moon’s all-around demeanor. He was accepted back onto the team this past summer. Moon started the season as a third-string receiver and since has moved up to the starting line-up.

His teammates and coaches have witnessed Moon’s growth these past few years, on the field and in his life. So far, the 2017 season has been a good one for Moon. Although the Mavericks did not play well as a unit during the game against CSU last weekend, Moon had a great game.

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His highlight reel moment of a 76-yard kick return was shown on ESPN.

Along with all of the other stresses of life, Moon’s mothers was recently diagnosed with cancer. Though Moon doesn’t have time to see her as much as he’d like, the two are very close. His mother plays a big part in Moon’s motivation to be the best he can possibly be.

“Obviously he has played at a high level, but even more has been his focus on being the best he’s ever been,” Martin said.

The focus didn’t come easy but now it’s just part of Moon’s practice routine, so he is ready to give his all on the field. It seems like just like most things in life, absence makes the heart grow fonder. Virnel missed football and his teammates; however, he was grateful for the opportunity to get his mind right and become a better version of himself. Moon knew he wasn’t willing to give up the sport, but grew from the opportunity of a forced break.

“It has been worth every moment of making memories,” Moon said. “I play football because it’s my get away from the world. It’s the place where I don’t have to worry about anything, the moment I step on the field.”

Coaches were able to see the potential within Moon. However, they could also see that he needed to straighten out a few of his priorities. Moon never lacked determination on the field and his passion has always been evident.

“It was never about his effort,” Martin said. “It was taking care of business with character, responsibility, academics and he took care of all issues.”

Moon is now a senior sports management student and plans to graduate in the spring. After graduation, he plans to continue pursuing his passion for playing football. The sport has helped Moon not only escape but realize his potential in all aspects of life.

I’m proud of him as a young man,” Martin said. “He has seen what it is to have talent, but lose the opportunity to use it. He has grown as a man, player and even leader.”

Virnel Moon leads the Mavericks in touchdown receptions (4) and will look to continue his amazing year as the season continues.  

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