After 11 years of representing blue and gold on Quitman’s football field, Tarvarius Moore traded his hometown jersey for Pearl River Community College’s maroon and gold jersey. He later swapped his PRCC jersey for a chance to play for the golden eagles at the University of Southern Mississippi.
His most recent change is one that many athletes only dream of.
On April 27, 2018, Moore traded his black and gold jersey for the signature scarlet and gold jerseys worn by the San Francisco 49ers. A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, the 49ers selected Moore with the 95th pick during the third round of the NFL Draft.
Although the jerseys have changed, football and family remain steadfast in Moore’s life. At only seven years old, he started playing football in the Quitman Youth Football League.
“Everybody in my family played football. My grandfather begged my mama to let me play, so that’s when it started,” Moore said.
The 2014 Quitman High School graduate still reminisces about being under the Friday night lights with his classmates. Moore said these memories, along with his friends and family, push him to continue playing the sport he loves.
“My favorite memory is having all of my family at the games and playing with my closest friends and people I grew up with all my life. It’s something I’ll never forget,” Moore said. “Quitman is where I’m from. It’s always something I’m going to be representing. It’s a part of my why.”
After almost 15 years on the gridiron, Moore has received constant support from his hometown. He said the game of football taught him to stay motivated, even through difficult times.
“I learned how to deal with life and adversity. In life and football, a lot of things will be thrown your way that you may not be prepared for. It taught me you have to sacrifice a lot to get to where you want to be,” Moore said.
Moore remained dedicated to football, even throughout one of the most difficult times in his life. His 16-year-old sister, TavyAnna Moore, died unexpectedly in July 2017, but he turned his pain into further motivation to reach his goals.
During the 2017 football season at USM, Moore was named a first-team All-American by Pro Football Focus and was praised by analysts as one of the top safeties in the nation for his versatility to stop running and passing plays. These accolades are just a small testament of Moore’s resilience.
Moore started the hashtag #DoIt4Tavy to remember his sister. On all of his social media, Moore presents the hashtag as a constant reminder of why he works so hard at the game of football.
“She’s definitely a part of my why. Everything I do, from this point out, I try to do for my sister. I try to make sure, at the end of the day, she’d be proud of me. That’s pretty much all I want is for her to be proud of me,” Moore said. “She was my best friend. If she was still here, she would be the happiest for me.”
These days, Moore lives in San Francisco, and much of his time is spent at off-season training camp. Only a week after he was drafted, he began rookie camp, and now he is training alongside his new teammates.
“I’m just trying to learn everything I can from the vets and adapt to the NFL life. At first, I was starstruck. I’m lined up beside guys I watched on TV all the time,” Moore said. “I had to throw that out the window and realize I have a purpose in the league.”
Moore said when he is done with off-season training camp, he plans to come home to Quitman before official training camp begins in August.
“I can always come home. I’ll probably come back as much as I can, especially during off season,” Moore said. “But, I don’t think it’ll be that hard being out of Mississippi.”
Moore is excited to play his first game in the NFL. He is a cornerback for the San Francisco 49ers and knows it will be a historical moment for the Quitman community. He also wants those who look up to him to know that success is possible for those who work hard.
“Everything that you’re going through, I went through the same thing. Nothing can hinder you. You can be anything you want to be,” Moore said. “You just have to stay determined and work hard. If you can do all those things, the sky is the limit.”
Originally published in the 2018-2019 issue of Quitman School District‘s Panther Nation magazine.