Juwan Moody was displaying potential on the football field long before he became a star wide receiver at Conway High School in South Carolina.
Juwan and his twin Jaylen were constantly present at Conway’s varsity football practices as middle schoolers when older brother Mykal played quarterback for the Tigers. Carlton Terry, now Conway’s varsity head coach, was offensive coordinator at the time.
“He and his twin, Jaylen, they used to be out there every day, running around and throwing footballs around,” Terry said. “You could tell at that point [Juwon] was very athletic and he would be a player to watch coming up into the program.”
Terry’s evaluation of Juwan Moody was on the money. He’s now in his third year as a varsity starter for the Tigers and has developed into a player good enough to earn a scholarship from East Carolina last June 18 after excelling at the university’s Beast of the East 7-on-7 tournament. Less than 24 hours after receiving that offer, Moody made a verbal commitment to play for the Pirates. He also had an offer from S.C. State.
The 5-foot-10, 170-pound Moody was already familiar with ECU, which had made recruiting overtures to Mykal, who is now a senior defensive back at S.C. State.
“Juwan really started in the offseason last year,” Terry said. “Of course, he plays basketball, too, but once that was finished he got in the weight room where his goal was to get stronger and faster. He did a great job there in the spring and in our spring practices.
“But the big boost came when we went to the 7-on-7 at East Carolina. Their coaches talked to him a lot after watching him, and wanted him to come there to play. I think that gave him additional motivation. He instantly said he wanted to go to East Carolina.”
Moody spent his freshman year at Conway on the junior varsity, although he did dress for several varsity games. But as a sophomore he earned a starting job on the varsity and almost immediately provided the Tigers with big-play capabilities. In just the third game of his varsity career, Moody gave a hint of things to come when he returned a kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown in a win against Socastee.
The 2016 season, however, was Moody’s true breakout year. He caught 31 passes for 673 yards – an average of 21 yards per reception – and scored nine touchdowns for an 8-5 team that reached the South Carolina Class AAAAA quarterfinals.
One of the season highlights for Moody occurred in a win against South Florence when he caught five passes for 167 yards and a touchdown. But it was in another game against Socastee that Moody made a play and a lasting impression on Terry.
“We ran a tunnel screen to the receiver,” Terry recalled. “He (Moody) went from a normal set up, where he’s the outside or X-receiver, comes back and catches the ball. He started out between the numbers on the sideline. But on this particular play he came all the way back to the hash, and went bobbing and weaving, in and out and around the opposite end for about a 60-yard touchdown. I think that play showed his great vision and speed.”
Through the first seven games this season in which Conway posted a 6-1 record, Moody had 24 receptions for 590 yards and eight touchdowns, had returned five kickoffs for 141 yards and rushed three times for 53 more yards. Highlights this season include a four-catch, 146-yard, two-touchdown performance against Socastee, a 66-yard scoring catch against West Florence and a two-touchdown reception game against Wilson.
“He also plays safety for us when we’re playing a team that likes to air it out,” Terry said. “But I do see him as a receiver and a return guy at the next level. I think when he steps on campus at East Carolina he can make a contribution. He has that kind of skill set. He’s a guy who can make something out of nothing, and make what looks like a negative play into a touchdown.”
Juwan might not be the only Moody coming to ECU next fall. The Pirates have also offered a scholarship to his twin, Jaylen. Jaylen Moody has also been a three-year varsity starter, who has collected 176 tackles over the last two seasons. He has 78 tackles, eight tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks through seven games this year.
“He’s a special athlete in his own right,” Terry said. “East Carolina is recruiting him pretty heavily now.”