Through the duration of its offseason, Florida A&M football saw a major influx of commitments from the NCAA Transfer Portal.
The Rattlers signed 25 transfers to join the team for the 2022 season - 16 arrived from FBS programs.
Among those were offensive players that are former Power 5 players in quarterback Jeremy Moussa, running back A.J. Davis, and offensive tackle Jalen Goss.
These three additions are projected to be key to the Rattlers offensive success once the year kicks off on Aug. 27 at North Carolina.
"Jeremy Moussa and Jalen Goss are pretty up to speed with what we're doing offensively. Goss is penciled in as our starting left tackle and Jeremy is in a heated quarterback battle," coach Willie Simmons said.
"A.J. Davis shows a lot promise and we see the ability. Once he learns how to align and learn the signals, he'll boost this team's depth and bring some playmaking."
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The quarterback from Cali
Graduate transfer Moussa has been subject to many quarterback rooms.
Coming out of Eleanor Roosevelt High School in 2018, the 6-foot-3, 225-pounder originally committed to Hawaii before spending a year in junior college at San Bernardino Valley College where he helped win the Inland Empire Athletic Conference championship in 2019.
Once Moussa left SBVC, he transferred to Vanderbilt, but didn't get significant playing time for the Commodores.
Looking for opportunities to play, former offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach KJ Black connected the eager kid from Chino Hills, California with Coach Simmons. The abundance of wide receiver options also played a factor that led to him commit to FAMU in December.
"I had a really good relationship with Coach Black and he knew my quarterback coach from back home. I talked to Coach Simmons the first day that I entered the portal and we developed a good relationship right off the bat," Moussa said.
"We got a great group of receivers. What more could a quarterback ask for more than getting to throw to Zay (Xavier) Smith, K-Dot (Jah'Marae Sheread), and (David) Manigo everyday?"
Moussa is of interest in a training camp quarterback battle with Rasean McKay. Instead of the competitors distancing themselves from one another, they are constantly assisting each other and absorbing ways to improve as they practice against a top 10 FCS defense everyday.
"It's going to make us better," he said.
"Me and Rasean get each other better everyday by bouncing ideas off of each other and talking coverage and defensive fronts. This is one of the best defenses in the country at the FCS level and we get to go against them every single day.
"They prepare us pretty well and gets us ready for what we're going to face."
Longing for a chance to be an integral part of a Division I offense, Moussa wants be the engine for the offense to reach its maximum potential.
"My goal has been the same in doing my job and playing how I know I can to make the people around me better," Moussa said.
"Something that I've done a pretty good job of is trying to elevate the offense as a whole so we can have a very successful season."
The Polk County kid returns to Florida
The 2017 7A All-State First Team running back from Lakeland High School A.J. Davis was a late addition to the Rattlers by the way of the transfer portal.
The former 4-star running back announced his commitment to FAMU on July 22, leaving Pitt -- just a week before the inception of fall training camp.
Davis, 6-foot, 225 pounds, rushed for 991 yards in four years with the Panthers and was the leader of the backfield during the 2019 season with 127 carries for 530 yards (4.2 per carry) and was productive receiving out the backfield by catching 23 passes for 269 yards (11.7 per catch).
With Davis residing in Tallahassee for just three weeks so far, returning running backs Terrell Jennings and Jaylen McCloud has been of assistance to helping him adjust to the program as he joins a stacked roster of eight ball carriers.
"I learned like three different playbooks and they helped me a lot when I came in," Davis said.
"Every running back in the room brings something different to the table. Everybody can make plays and is one of the best running backs rooms that I've had since I've been in college."
Recalling his official visit, Davis remembers the hospitality of redshirt senior quarterback McKay. Paired with the cold weather that he experienced in Pittsburgh, that ultimately drew him to return to his home state of Florida.
"I've been up north in the cold, snowy weather for the last five years. When I came on my visit, Rasean McKay and everybody welcomed me and it felt like more of a family.
"I liked that vibe a lot and that's what brought me here."
As a graduate transfer, Davis will serve as a mentor to the younger players of his position, being a former Power 5 starting running back.
"I'm bringing all my knowledge that I've had throughout the years at Pittsburgh," he said. "I'm going to teach the younger guys to pick up the pace and to be a sponge to us older guys.
"It's going to help them down the line."
Not far from home
Goss was once an All-State offensive lineman for Lowndes High School in Valdosta, Georgia.
When his preps career concluded, the class of 2018 lineman chose Florida State over Florida, Auburn, and Michigan.
After taking an official visit to FSU, what sold him was the close proximity of Tallahassee from his hometown as he would be an hour and a half away.
After spending four years with the Seminoles, the 6-foot-7, 270-pound graduate transfer Goss saw an opportunity to be a part of the push for HBCU sports earning the same respect as Power 5 programs and elected to transfer to FAMU in December.
"What brought me to FAMU was HBCU's getting a bigger name. I had the mindset of if you put in the work, they will come find you,” Goss said.
"FAMU is a real deal family. I was welcomed in by everybody with open arms. We have fun and get good work in everyday here."
Fellow offensive linemen Bryan Crawford and Cameron Covin along with quarterback McKay helped Goss become acclimated to his new program before the offseason preparation even began.
"One day I came in to just talk to coach and they pulled me in the meeting room and sat me down and went over plays. When they did that, that helped me even more for when we got coach (Joseph) Henry because he's detailed with everything," Goss said.
"Me, TJ (Lee), and Cam gelled together off of being from South Georgia. That's what I was looking for."
Manning the left tackle spot, most of Goss' practice snaps is lined up against the reigning Buck Buchanan Award winner Isaiah Land.
"It's good work because I'm going against the best of the best. We always tell each other 'good rep.' He's a competitor," Goss said. "Isaiah Land is the real deal with his speed and spin modes.
"Going against him will put me in the best position for the season since I'm going against the best edge rusher that's out right now."
As his first season with FAMU approaches, Goss wants to cement his name into the rich Rattler history.
"I'm trying to join the legacy of what's already here, because it's a lot of tradition," he said.
"I'm trying to bring myself up to the standard of this great HBCU and football team. Of course I want to get all the accolades, but most importantly, I want to win a championship.
"I want to say I was part of the team to help them do that."
2022 FAMU transfers
DL James Ash/Wake Forest; OL Toryque Bateman/Louisville, RB Destin Coates/Georgia State; RB Isaiah Connelly/Coastal Carolina; DB Jordan Cumberbatch/Alabama A&M; RB A.J. Davis/Pitt; WR Trevonte Davis/Wayne State; WR Ce'Zaun Enge/Minnesota State Community and Technical College; QB Trey Fisher/UT-Martin; ATH Fenley Graham/Florida; OL Jalen Goss/Florida State; TE Koby Gross/Florida State; LB Aric Horne/Iowa State; DL Dre Jones/Abilene Christian; DB Kym'Mani King/Iowa State; LB Isaiah Major/Central Oklahoma; DB Jordan Moore/Texas A&M; LB Travis Moss/Memphis; QB Jeremy Moussa/Vanderbilt; DB Lamar Mullins/Tulsa; OL Cesar Reyes/USF; TE Cam Shelton/Delta State; DB Jalik Thomas/Hutchinson Community College; OL Christopher Williams/Florida State, OL Dariyon Weeden/Cisco College
Gerald Thomas III covers FAMU athletics for the Tallahassee Democrat. Contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @3peatgee.
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This article originally appeared on Tallahassee Democrat: FAMU Football: Offensive transfers embark on new journey and legacy