It’s been quite the adventure getting to this point, but Denham Springs High quarterback Reese Mooney is now committed.
Mooney, whose junior season was cut short after he broke his ankle, announced his commitment to Vanderbilt on Sunday.
“It feels great,” Mooney said of committing. “When I drove right into Nashville, I knew it was the spot for me. The education there is just incredible. I wasn’t trying to chase a logo or anything. I was just trying to do what’s best for me and my family and my life after football. I thank the coaches at Vanderbilt for giving me the opportunity as well, and it feels great, so now I can worry about bringing a state title to Denham as well.”
Mooney made the most of the recruiting experience, taking advantage of his visits.
“I counted yesterday,” he said. “I visited about 14 (schools) just this year. “I learned that anywhere you go, you can have an opportunity to just turn that program around or just keep that program rolling. I learned how to just look at your options. I can’t really say much. Every program was nice. It was the hardest decision of my life.”
When it came down to it, Vanderbilt won out for Mooney, who had a short but important list of what put the program over the top. Mooney, who said he’s looking at majoring in physical therapy, said West Virginia, Miami, Cincinnati, Vanderbilt, UAB and Georgia Tech were the final teams on his list.
“The facilities,” he said. “It’s Nashville. It’s in the SEC, the best conference in the world, and the academics is incredible, and the coaches as well.”
Mooney said he built a relationship with Joey Lynch, the passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Vanderbilt, and said there are a number of aspects of his game the Commodores’ coaching staff liked.
“I have a great mind,” he said. “I’m able to read defenses. My play action skills are great, throwing on the run. They just like almost everything about me, my demeanor and my leadership too.”
Vanderbilt’s offensive scheme is also a fit for Mooney.
“The offense that they run, it’s like an NFL pro style type offense, so that will help me progress and become an NFL player one day,” he said.
As a freshman, Mooney committed to the University of Houston in baseball before de-committing last year.
“I’m going to try both, and if that doesn’t work out, then I’ll go strictly football because the main goal is the NFL,” Mooney said.
Mooney broke his ankle in late September, and he said some schools backed off in the recruiting process, something he’s using as motivation.
“They better wish they didn’t because it’s going to be bad for them these next few years,” he said. “They’re going to get the other side of me that they don’t really see often. It was for the best. I made my decision, so I’m good now.”
The injury ended Mooney’s season, but he said he took a positive outlook, especially knowing he’ll be back next season.
“When he told me my season was over, I cried and did all that, but I just looked at the bright side,” Mooney said. “It could have been something worse, so I’ll be back next year and be a better teammate and become a better leader.”
During surgery, a plate and seven screws were inserted to repair the break.
“It’s tough because I’m just sitting on the sideline,” Mooney said. “I can’t really do anything, but I was just trying to be a great teammate and a great leader.”
Mooney is still going through rehab and said he’ll be able to come out of his walking boot early this week.
“I’ve been walking on my foot a little bit and I hardly have any pain,” Mooney said. “Just the stretching stuff, that’s kind of hard because you haven’t really walked on your leg much. The Achilles is tight and all the other ligaments are tight. Just getting them back into shape has been pretty tough, but I’ve been getting though it. I’m almost back to normal. My leg’s still a little bit smaller though.”
Mooney is hoping the Yellow Jackets can build on this season’s run to the regional round of the Class five A playoffs in a big way.
“Hopefully I’m looking at my ring size next year,” he said. “I’m not trying to do it for giggles, either. I’m being dead serious. I think we’ve got a real shot to play in the Dome next year. I’m really looking forward to that right after baseball. It’s going to be a really great offseason for us as a team. We’ve created that brotherhood, that bond, throughout these years, so I think we’re ready.”