November 27, 2022

Riley Moss: The Big Ten’s fastest rising ballhawk

Iowa Hawkeyes Football

Iowa Hawkeyes defensive back Riley Moss (33) scores on an interception against the Michigan State Spartans Saturday, November 7, 2020 at Kinnick Stadium. (Brian Ray/hawkeyesports.com)

IOWA CITY, Ia. — He was one of the Big Ten’s most underrated cornerbacks entering the season, but after Saturday’s magnificent performance, the entire league knows his name now.

Riley Moss scored twice when he returned two interceptions for touchdowns in Iowa’s 34-6 victory over Indiana. His amazing feat raised everyone’s eyebrows in Kinnick Stadium. However, he’s no stranger to picking off passes and taking the pigskin to the house. Moss also returned one of his two picks last year for a score.

Kinnick erupted into pandemonium each time he reached the endzone against the Hoosiers. Moss’ ball-hawking skills were on full display as he blanketed his entire side of the field.

“They were trying to run a smash concept to the boundary, so I was sitting there,” Moss said. “He threw the ball, I was ready to break on it and tackle him, and then I see the ball pop up and I got super excited.”

For his heroics, Moss was named the Walter Camp FBS national Defensive Player of the Week. It’s an honor for the Iowa native to finally be receiving accolades. After all, the former two-star prospect has been a productive defender over the past three years with Iowa.

After Saturday, Moss now has 72 tackles, including 58 solo and six interceptions under his belt. Not to mention Moss has 10 career pass breakups. Those types of numbers should get him All-Big Ten consideration and mention for the Jim Thorpe Award if Moss continues his success throughout the fall.

All it took was one game for the 18th-ranked Hawkeyes to change the narrative on the Hoosiers’ season. Iowa’s secondary picked off Michael Penix Jr. three times and Indiana’s offense only mustered 233 total yards.

“We made them work for their yards and for their points,” he said. “It was praised to stay on top, do your job, read your keys, knowing your responsibilities, and I think everyone throughout the defense did that well.”

Iowa’s victory moved the needle nationally. Now ESPN’s College Gameday will be in Ames this Saturday for the Cy-Hawk Showdown. The Hawkeyes’ margin of victory over the 17th-ranked Hoosiers could potentially propel them into the AP top-10 for the first time since 2015.

Iowa’s defense is currently looking like world beaters and the unit needs to continue the intensity. Iowa still has to navigate through one of the toughest schedules in the Big Ten. Moss will have plenty of opportunities to pick off more passes against some of the best signal-callers in the league.

As for now the six-foot-one, 194-pound Moss is going to enjoy his coming out party. The rest of the conference has definitely noticed how he emerged from the shadows. The scary part is Moss seems to be just cracking the surface on his potential. Iowa’s secondary is full of ballhawks and they plan on wreaking havoc on opposing pass catchers for the rest of 2021.

“It definitely boosts our confidence especially because last year we played them with this same group in the back end,” the senior said. “It was cool to see us grow from last year and be able to show that off today.”