Brandon Moseby-Felder, middle, attempts to zero in on a pass against Northwestern earlier this season. Moseby-Felder is third among Penn State receivers with 25 catches this season.
By Mark Dent Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Teammates would tease him because he couldn't get into the end zone. Brandon Moseby-Felder's roommate Malcolm Willis would tell him he must have lost his speed from high school.
Moseby-Felder had come so close. Against Ohio State, the wide receiver had a 42-yard reception that he took to the 4.
"They're joking that I need to get my legs stronger," he said.
So when he got his first touchdown Saturday against Purdue, Moseby-Felder returned to the sideline and told Willis that his speed was clearly still there, that he could joke no more. Moseby-Felder also had the best game of his career, finishing with 129 receiving yards, cementing his place as the team's second-best wide receiver behind Allen Robinson.
Game: Penn State (6-3, 4-1 Big Ten) at No. 18 Nebraska (7-2, 4-1), Lincoln, Neb.
When: 3:30 p.m. Saturday.
TV: WTAE or ESPN2.
Skinny: The Nittany Lions seek to finish a perfect Big Ten road schedule for only the third time in their 20 seasons in the conference.
In a slightly different world, Moseby-Felder would have been lucky to see much playing time outside of special teams this season. Slightly meaning a world without the NCAA sanctions.
When spring practice concluded, the depth chart listed three wide receiver positions. He ranked fourth at one of those positions, behind Shawney Kersey, Robinson and Matt Zanellato. Devon Smith and Justin Brown topped the other two wide receiver spots.
It didn't help that Moseby-Felder, a redshirt junior, had a hamstring injury. The muscle nagged him throughout the spring, causing him to miss the Blue-White game, and the pain stretched into the summer. Moseby-Felder was limited in the workouts he could do. He said he could not fully sprint and spent much of his time in the training room.
While he waited to get better, his role increased. Smith left the team for personal reasons in June. Brown transferred to Oklahoma after the sanctions were handed down.
Moseby-Felder began the season the way every receiver except Robinson did, feeling everything out and receiving an equal opportunity, illustrated best by the prevalence of "ORs" on the depth chart at his position. But he started out slowly. The hamstring still affected him.
In the first two games, he had no receptions. He got his first against Navy, the week that Kersey had left the team, further increasing his role. With precarious depth now, Moseby-Felder had to excel.
"He's really done everything we've asked him to do this year," coach Bill O'Brien said.
Moseby-Felder had two receptions against Temple, then three against Illinois and five against Northwestern. He has had 13 in the past three games and has 25 receptions for 362 yards this season.
His best effort of the year, Saturday against Purdue, came when the passing game was limited because of tight end Kyle Carter's ankle injury.
"It motivates me," he said. "It motivates me to do better and better."
Moseby-Felder also has become a serious deep threat. He has seven receptions this season longer than 15 yards, including four for greater than 40 yards. He said quarterback Matt McGloin and the receivers have a period of practice each week in which they focus only on deep balls.
McGloin and Moseby-Felder have clearly made a connection. The quarterback has plenty of trust in him.
"Take each and every rep like it's his last and that's what he does," McGloin said.
"And he's really at his best right now."
NOTES -- O'Brien has discussed several times the importance of the walk-on program in light of the NCAA sanctions. He said on Tuesday that he looks to Nebraska's walk-on program as an example and would consider contacting their coaches for advice. ... Tight end Carter (ankle) and defensive tackle Jordan Hill (knee) are listed as day to day on the injury chart. O'Brien said they were doing "some things" at practice on Monday.