As a kid, my favorite athlete was always Kobe Bryant.
I remember watching him and thinking about how he would do anything to win games.
He knew a lot was expected of him but wanted to rise to each challenge and own his moment. I’ve always tried to take this “Mamba Mentality” in whatever I did to take on things that weren’t always easy for me.
Besides Kobe, I’ve had role models in different parts of life which had an impact on me as a person and an athlete. My mom was always there in my life and supported me in school and sports.
She was the constant source of advice and support no matter what was going on or what I needed.
Growing up in South Florida, football is part of the way of life down there, so almost everyone I knew played ball. You watch a lot of good players, guys either for the Dolphins or at The U.
A lot of them have gone on to do big things, so I’ve always had a pride of being from there, and looking to them as motivation as well.
During the summer going into my junior year of high school, I realized that’s when football was going to be my passion in life, and that’s when it kind of took over. I just dedicated my life to the sport and trying to perfect my craft.
It became about continuing to grow and mature, and realizing that you don’t want to settle for the same circumstances you grew up in.
I wanted to make a better life for myself, and football was how I was going to do it.
A lot of people don’t know that I went to Mater Academy for three years, and then switched over to Hallandale with guys that I literally played football with since little league. I knew the head coach and his son since then too.
It was a pretty simple decision. I knew I needed to a change in my environment, so I immediately looked at Hallandale. Basically, when I transferred over, it was like reuniting with all those guys that I played little league with.
It was like rejoining the family, with guys I knew would push me.
With all the players that come from Miami, you might think there would be a lot of pressure to carry that on. I think this is just another thing I wanted to take on and prove myself.
In the back of your head, there’s always pressure, but it’s something to live up to.
I knew what I could do and what I was capable of, and guys coming from Miami like myself have so much confidence. It’s not so much a pressure as just we have to do what we do.
You want to carry on the legacy of the players that came before you.
Obviously, with the great culture down there, there’s always a thought that you might wind up at The U.
Originally, I committed there but thought in the back of my head that I might need a new place for me. Utah started being an idea when me and two other guys from Hallandale – Tyler Huntley and Demari Simpkins – got looks from there.
We started getting called the “Hallandale Trio,” which we all thought was pretty cool.
When we all committed here, it made making that move from Miami to Utah pretty easy. It was a little like changing from Mater to Hallandale in high school, only without knowing as many people there already.
We still knew we were going to ball.
Going that far from home to a new environment was another thing that I accepted and wanted to take on. Even though it was so different, I knew that I wanted to grow up by myself and not be dependent on other people.
That’s what the move was mainly about – continuing to mature and to make important life decisions by myself.
That’s just always the way I’ve done things.
I had confidence in myself coming into college, but all the experience since I’ve been here has helped me be even better as well. The most important thing is that on the field, I’m in the best spot I could be. One of the important things is to never doubt myself in any situation.
We have a really talented team this year and know we can do big things.
We’re having a pretty good season so far, but it hasn’t been perfect. There’s a lot of good players on every team in the Pac-12, so we know we can always get better to be ready. We can’t let ourselves get complacent.
You also start to have the next level in the back of your mind, since that’s always the next goal for guys coming out of Utah.
My cousins, Santana and Sinorice, each played in the NFL, so they’ve been great to talk to since I’ve been in college. When I was younger, they each had their careers going, so I didn’t get to talk to them as much, but I’ve always viewed them as role models on how to get to the next level.
Since they each went through what I’m doing now, they offer great advice on continuing to work hard and be humble with everything that comes my way.
No matter what, I just know to get to the next level, whether that’s helping our team win games in Salt Lake City or looking to my future, you never can let yourself get comfortable with your environment.
Overall, coming to Utah has been the best decision I’ve made as a person and an athlete. As much as I wanted to stay around Miami, this journey has pushed me more than I thought possible.
So if it’s choosing to go far away from home to play ball or something else that sounds uncomfortable, just go for it.
You won’t regret it.
Zack Moss | Contributor
University of Utah, Running Back