NEW ORLEANS, La. (WDAM) - Twelve former Golden Eagles are active among the NFL this season – and two happen to play on the same team.
Nick Mullens and Tarvarius Moore enjoy an 11-2 season with the San Francisco 49ers. The former USM teammates also relish the opportunity to practice against one another much like they did in Hattiesburg.
"We go up against each other every day in practice just like the old days in college and it's awesome to see T-Moore develop,” Mullens said. “He's making a lot of plays for us and he's very versatile. Corner, safety, special teams, he's doing it all for us."
"Same as it was back at USM day,” Moore said. “He'll make a good throw every now and then, I'll try to pick him off just about every play he throws the ball. We have fun out there.”
Moore was all smiles after the 49ers win over the Saints on Sunday. Of course, that’s been the case ever since San Fran took a chance on the defensive back in the third round of 2018’s NFL Draft.
Even though he was a standout at Quitman, Moore received just one Division I offer coming out of high school in 2013. After a couple of years dominating the junior college ranks at Pearl River Community College, Moore got his shot at Southern Miss.
Moore knows what it took to get to the NFL doesn’t take it for granted.
“It just keeps me hungry,” Moore said. “That’s pretty much all I can say. It just keeps me hungry, keeps me dedicated and motivated to my craft. Never be satisfied, never be content. Just always know that there’s no ceiling to what I can do. [I’m] just trying to be the best player that I can be.”
Moore has had his opportunities at safety and on special teams this season, recording 22 tackles.
Meanwhile, his fellow Golden Eagle Nick Mullens has spent most of the year backing up Jimmy Garropolo.
However, the 2017 undrafted free agent knows all too well his role can change in a flash. After Garropolo tore his ACL in week three of last season, Mullens was thrust into the starting quarterback position.
USM’s all-time leader in passing (11,994 yards) finished the 2018 NFL season with 2,277 passing yards, 13 touchdowns and a 64.2 completion percentage.
“Prepare like you’re the starter,” Mullens said. “Just tell yourself in your mind, ‘You’re starting this week. You’re ready to play.’ You have to be ready at any moment. The amount of knowledge I’ve gained from the coaches here in San Francisco is incredible. It’s really cool to be able to learn a different offense, learn about the run game and the pass game – see how it all ties together. It’s made me a lot better player in my career.”
The former Spain Park High quarterback and the skinny kid from Quitman both travelled different paths to the NFL, with one familiar stop along the way.
Both Mullens and Moore are grateful to be 49ers.
"Life-changing, honestly,” Moore said. “With these group of guys that I got with me, they took me in and treated me like I was one of their own." "We came in with coach [Kyle] Shanahan's staff and to see where we were and where we are now to where we're going to go, it's incredible,” Mullens said. “These guys on the team are playing so well and everybody's doing their part. We've got a special team, special season and excited to see where it ends up."
Here’s a look at the 12 former Southern Miss players currently active in the NFL:
- Tarvarius Moore (DB) - San Francisco 49ers
- Nick Mullens (QB) - San Francisco 49ers
- Cornell Armstrong (CB) - Houston Texans
- Jamie Collins (LB) - New England Patriots
- Demar Dotson (OT) - Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Rashod Hill (OT) - Minnesota Vikings
- Picasso Nelson (DB) - Indianapolis Colts
- Jalen Richard (RB) - Oakland Raiders
- Rakeem Nunez-Roches (DT) - Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Mike Thomas (WR) - Los Angeles Rams
- Ito Smith (RB) - Atlanta Falcons
- Cameron Tom (C) - New Orleans Saints