Former University of Miami running-back great Tyrone Moss, one of the best Broward County high-school football players ever, died Thursday night.
He was 33.
When reached by phone Friday afternoon, Moss’ father, Ronald, did not give a specific cause of death but indicated that his son’s heart was ailing.
“From what I was told, his heart rate was very weak, and it was only functioning at 10 percent,’’ Ronald Moss told the Miami Herald, adding that his son had been at Northwest Medical Center in Broward. “Right now, I’m just hurt.”
“I just got the message, man, I can’t believe it,’’ said former UM running-backs coach Don Soldinger, who was Moss’ Hurricanes position coach for his first three seasons in 2003, 2004, and 2005. “He was as good as any of them running the football. He had great lower-body strength and could run over you, around you, make you miss. He was excellent. He just needed to be pushed more.
“Always smiling. Always. Great personality, just a pleasant guy. Good teammate.
“Of all the guys I coached, he should have played NFL football. He was a great talent.”
His teammates at UM called him “Thunder Thighs,’’ and Moss used his physical gifts to frustrate opponents and set records.
Moss came out of Pompano Beach Ely High in 2003 as the most prolific running back in Broward County history, rushing for 7,407 yards and 108 touchdowns. At 5-10 and about 230 pounds when he played, Moss’ massive thighs and cartoonish calves helped him bulldoze defenders.
But Moss’ UM career derailed when he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during the Hurricanes’ stunning 27-7 victory at then-No. 3 Virginia Tech in November 2005. He was never drafted but practiced with the Cleveland Browns during their May 2007 minicamp. He said he couldn’t continue to play because of his knee and had another surgery to remove scar tissue.
“The University of Miami has been like a family to me,’’ Moss told the Miami Herald in 2011, after he was implicated in the Nevin Shapiro scandal for allegedly taking $1,000 from the booster. “I’ll always be a diehard fan.’’
Yahoo! Sports first reported the story and used direct quotes from Moss.
But he later told the Herald that he “never admitted to receiving $1,000 from anyone.’’
The friendly, outgoing Moss finished his UM career with 1,942 yards rushing and 26 touchdowns on 412 carries.
“He’s like a bowling ball going downhill,’’ former UM center Joel Rodriguez, now the director of player development for the UM football program, said of Moss in 2004, when Rodriguez was a senior starter. “He leans forward and runs over guys.”
Moss is fifth all-time in UM career touchdowns, tied with Duke Johnson, Melvin Bratton, and recent star Mark Walton. Walton, in 2016 against FAU, was the first Miami running back to have at least four rushing touchdowns in a game since Moss did it on Oct. 29, 2005 against North Carolina.
Moss is 14th in UM career rushing yardage.
“One of our brothers was taken too soon,” the Hurricanes tweeted from their football account (@CanesFootball). “Our thoughts are with Tyrone Moss’ family and friends during this difficult time. RIP, Tyrone.”
Among his survivors, Moss leaves behind a 15-year-old son, Tyrone Jr.
“Very sad to hear about the passing of the great Tyrone Moss,’’ read the Twitter account of Plantation High, which is coached by Moss’ former Ely coach, Steve Davis. “A great human being. You will always be missed.’’