Brandon Mosely will not be home for the holidays, but he doesn’t mind one bit. In fact, he couldn’t be happier not to be.
Not that the Jefferson High graduate doesn’t like returning to his hometown, it’s just he’s preparing for the biggest football game of his life, one very few get the chance to experience — the BCS national title game.
Mosely is a junior offensive lineman for the undefeated Auburn Tigers, who will play the Oregon Ducks on Jan. 10 in Glendale, Arizona to determine the nation’s best team.
When the 6-6, 300-pound right tackle tries to make sense of his fortunate predicament, he struggles. That’s understandable, considering he spent last season playing for the Ravens of Coffeyville, a junior college in Kansas.
“I’m still trying to grasp it,” Mosely said. “It’s hard to believe I’m an SEC champion and about to play for a national championship. I feel blessed and honored to be in this situation.”
The road to Auburn University wasn’t easy for Mosely. While he always had the athletic ability to play for a top-tier, Division I school, he didn’t have the academic eligibility to get accepted to one. So long before any War Eagle chants entered his mind, he enrolled at Georgia Military College to begin his college football career.
Simply put, he hated the experience.
“He wasn’t happy,” said former Jefferson coach Bill Navas, who coached Mosely when he played for the Dragons. “He was discouraged. He didn’t like the whole (military) environment. He could have played D-I right out of high school, but his grades weren’t there. He was disappointed, depressed, and he came back home.”
But Mosely wasn’t ready to give up on football just yet. While he knew he would never last in a military school, he was open to sending out film to other junior colleges, and that’s what he and Navas did.
A number of schools showed interest, but Mosely decided Coffeyville — located nearly 900 miles from home — was the best fit for him.
“Coffeyville showed to me they were the most interested,” Mosely said. “The came all the way down to Georgia to my house and offered me a scholarship. I didn’t even visit. I just got in my car and showed up in Coffeyville.
“I didn’t know what to think.”
Because he transferred, Mosely was forced to redshirt his first year at Coffeyville. He made good use of his season off, bringing his grades up and meeting his current girlfriend, Amy Tarbutton, who moved to Auburn with him.
In high school, Mosely played tight end, linebacker and punter. However, Coffeyville coaches saw him more as a defensive end, so he was asked to gain weight.
In his first and only season playing with the Ravens, Mosely split time at tight end and defensive end and, in the process, gained the attention of a number of Division I schools.
Also while at Coffeyville, an offensive line coach told Mosely he should consider becoming an offensive lineman, and that he’d be a good one.
Stubbornness got in the way.
“I didn’t want to listen to that bullcrap,” he said. “Schools were calling and saying they wanted me to play tackle, and I was like, ‘blah, blah, blah.’”
He maintained that resistant stance until Chad Lunsford, Auburn football operations director of scouting, gave him a call.
Lunsford had coached Mosely at Georgia Military College and recognized his name when looking through junior college recruits.
“He said I could play tight end or tackle for them, but the coaches liked me better at tackle,” Mosely said. “He told me they’re losing a starting tackle and needed one, and I was like, ‘I don’t know. I guess.’”
While visiting Auburn, offensive line coach Jeff Grimes sold Mosely on being a tackle, saying he’d turned tight ends with athleticism into tackles.
“I started getting interested,” Mosely said. “I liked the school, it was close to home, I’d be in the SEC, and I’d be getting playing time.”
As it would turn out, Mosely is getting more playing time than he expected. Two games into the season, starter Lee Ziemba went down with an injury and Mosely finished the game for him. Two games later against South Carolina, Mosely was in the starting lineup, where he’s been ever since.
Now, he’s blocking for the nation’s best player, quarterback Cam Newton. Not bad for a kid playing a new position, and playing on arguably the nation’s best offensive line.
“At first, I was nervous playing in front of 80,000 people and on national TV,” he said. “I was just thinking, ‘Try not to screw up. Don’t give up a sack or let it be your guy.’ After a few plays, I was back to playing football.
“Now I’m just having fun.”