Justice Shelton-Mosley is quite the highlight-reel football talent.
During his three-year varsity career at Capital Christian High School, the speedy 6-foot, 180-pound senior has compiled nearly 7,000 all-purpose yards and scored 88 touchdowns. The wide receiver, running back, free safety, kick returner and three-star recruit is a big reason the Cougars have enjoyed a historic 13-0 run and are playing Central Catholic in Friday night’s Northern California Division IV Regional championship game in Modesto.
But Shelton-Mosley is quite the renaissance man, too.
He’s an excellent basketball player and track and field sprinter who plans to give baseball a try in the spring. But his true love is bass fishing.
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“Nothing is better than getting out on the water with some of my teammates and chilling,” Justice-Mosley said. “It’s a chance to have man-to-man conversations and talk about life.”
He also sings in the school choir and musicals – “girls like it when a guy can sing, too,” he says with a smile – serves on the student council and is one of the school’s most engaging social butterflies.
For good measure, he has a 4.21 grade-point average. He has verbally committed to attend Harvard next fall, having selected the Crimson over 13 more prominent football schools, including five in the Pacific-12 Conference.
“He’s a special human being who has changed a lot of lives on our campus,” says football coach Phil Grams. “You realize that you could be looking at someone who could be president of the United States someday.”
Among the schools that have offered full scholarships are Arizona, Cal, Boston College, Duke and Northwestern.
“A lot of those are great academic schools in their own right, so it was a hard decision,” Shelton-Mosley said. “But college is a 40-year decision, not a four-year decision. That’s why I chose Harvard. There’s so much history, so much tradition, and presidents have gone there.
“It’s the best fit for me, and if I don’t go to the NFL, that degree, that Ivy League experience is going to put me in the best position as far as my future and my family.”
Shelton-Mosley has some athletic genes.
His father, Anthony, played running back at Fresno State and for the Chicago Bears during the 1987 NFL players’ strike. But his bigger influence has been his mother, Carla.
“My mother is the one person I would die for,” Shelton-Mosley said. “My dad gave me the sports aspect, but my mom gave me the love of academics. She was a 4.0 student all through high school who went to UC Davis and later got her master’s.
“She was really on me when I was younger, but it laid a foundation. Now that I’m older, I’ve taken responsibility. She hasn’t had to check my grades since my freshman year.”
While coaches and teammates marvel at Shelton-Mosley’s slippery game-changing abilities, they are even more impressed with his leadership skills.
“His pregame talks are unbelievable, so well thought out,” Grams said. “He sometimes leaves everyone in tears.”
Senior fullback-linebacker Luis Gomez, who leads the team in tackles, calls Shelton-Mosley “a deep thinker.”
“He always comes up with a good speech, and it’s never about football,” Gomez said. “It’s about life and having fun.”
Senior wide receiver-defensive back Edward Ware, a star playmaker in his own right with nine interceptions and four fumble recoveries, said his good friend’s talks are powerful.
“He’s really good at painting an image in your head,” said Ware, also a basketball standout. “Last year before we played Bishop O’Dowd (for the NorCal Open Division boys basketball championship), he named events where he first crossed paths with each of us and how it connected us in that moment in the locker room. It had us all in tears.”
When Shelton-Mosley was sidelined for three games earlier this season because of a nagging right ankle sprain, he used a famous talk (“When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe”) by motivational speaker Eric Thomas to get himself and his teammates fired up for their Golden Empire League home opener against Dixon.
“It’s an amazing 15-minute video, and I’ve listened to it so many times that I know almost every word,” said Shelton-Mosley, who has 1,908 all-purpose yards, 29 touchdowns and six interceptions this season. “I talked about how tough it was to sit out those games, and how hard I worked every day in rehab so I could get back and be able to play in that game with my brothers.”
Don’t be surprised if Shelton-Mosley offers up a few emotional words on Friday night.
Capital Christian, the Sac-Joaquin Section Division VI champion, is going against a section D-IV championship team, Central Catholic, that has won a section-best 18 titles and is the two-time defending D-IV state champion.
“We have great respect for them; Central Catholic has a great tradition,” Shelton-Mosley said. “But we’re a family, and a great bond can break anything.
“It’s going to a dogfight in the wind and rain and mud. It’s going to be like backyard football. What’s more fun than that?”
Call The Bee’s Bill Paterson, (916) 326-5506.
BY THE NUMBERS
Justice Shelton-Mosley, Capital Christian