Lighter, faster, stronger: How Trevon Moehrig has become a top Big 12 safety

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Safety Trevon Moehrig talks about TCU’s 51-14 win over Kansas and containing Jayhawks’ running back Pooka Williams jr.

Carter Stanley, the quarterback for the Kansas Jayhawks, showed the country why you should not test safety Trevon Moehrig.

With Kansas down 38-0 early in the fourth quarter of the Sep. 28 game, Stanley decided to make a play by himself. After gaining four yards, he tried to hurdle the safety preparing to bring him down in the middle of the field. 

That wasn’t going to happen on Moehrig’s watch. He grabbed Stanley out of the air and slammed him to the ground, emphasizing the Frogs’ dominant 51-14 win.

The emphatic tackle would be one of three tackles for Moehrig on the day. He had played a pivotal role in how TCU was able to hold Kansas to just 84 passing yards on the day.

Having played at the cornerback position in high school, Moehrig is used to being a quarterback threat. He recorded 38 tackles and seven interceptions, including two returned for touchdowns, during his sophomore year at Smithson Valley High School in Spring Branch, Texas.

The following year, Moehrig would show off his talents in the return game, returning four punts and two kickoffs for touchdowns, leading him to first-team team all-district honors.

In December 2017, Moehrig, the No. 4 cornerback in Texas, signed his letter of intent to become a Horned Frog. He chose TCU over Baylor, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, Stanford and Georgia.

Once he got to TCU, Moehrig moved to safety but had to wait his turn to play in the secondary, as seniors Niko Small and Ridwan Issahaku, who was an All-Big 12 Second Team member in 2018, were the starters.

TCU safety Trevon Moehrig (7) in action as TCU played Purdue in an NCAA football game on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019 in West Lafayette, Ind. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)

In the meantime, Moehrig excelled in his special teams role. He was voted TCU’s special teams Most Valuable Player after he recorded six tackles on special teams during his first year.

As Small battled injuries, Moehrig would see two starts at safety, totaling 10 tackles and one interception while playing in the secondary.

“One of the things that happened to him [Moehrig] is he got thrown in the spotlight of having to play as a true freshman. We had to play without Niko [Small] eight or nine ball games last year,” head coach Gary Patterson said.

Moehrig’s early experience showed the promise for which he had been recruited. After his promising first year, recruiting guru Jeremy Clark said that the young safety could “go down as one of the top safeties to play under Gary Patterson.”

With Small and Issahaku now gone, Moehrig finally received his turn as a starter. In July, Patterson praised Moehrig, saying he had gotten leaner, quicker and stronger during the offseason.

“In the spring he was about 217 [pounds] and was too heavy,” Patterson said. “Now he’s back to 199 and can run like he was when he played corner when we recruited him out of high school. But, now he’s bigger and stronger.”

Moehrig has not disappointed in his time as a starter in the secondary. The sophomore has posted 18 tackles, tied for sixth in the Big 12 among safeties, four passes defended and two interceptions.

Moehrig produced one of TCU’s top plays of the young season in TCU’s 34-13 win over Purdue while guarding Rondale Moore, one of the nation’s top receivers. After Moore caught a pass off of a slant for a big gain, Moehrig ripped it from his hands as he wrestled the receiver to the ground.

“We’ve been hearing a lot of things, like you said Big 12 don’t play defense, but I think we came out here tonight and put on a show,” Moehrig said after the win over Purdue.

The pick was Moehrig’s second in as many games, as he had one against Arkansas-Pine Bluff that he returned 58 yards. Only Texas Tech’s Douglas Coleman has more interceptions (3) in the Big 12 than Moehrig through five weeks.

“Tre Moehrig’s playing really good right now,” cornerback Jeff Gladney said after the Pine Bluff game. Gladney praised Moehrig as being a major part of TCU’s being one of the Big 12’s top secondaries.

The spark and aggression that Moehrig has provided for TCU in the secondary will be needed once conference play advances, as the Big 12 holds some of the nation’s top quarterbacks in the likes of Jalen Hurts and Sam Ehlinger, as well as wide receivers like Tylan Wallace and CeeDee Lamb.

Hurts, the most efficient quarterback in the country with an average efficiency rating of 249.9, leads the nation’s second-best scoring offense at Oklahoma. His top target, Lamb is the ninth-best receiver in the nation, averaging 103 receiving yards per game.

Hurts has thrown 12 touchdowns and one interception while rushing for five.

Wallace, the nation’s fifth-best receiver, averages 23 more receiving yards per game. Both Lamb and Wallace have six receiving touchdowns on the year.

Ehlinger, the nation’s 10th-best quarterback, holds an average passing efficiency of 181 with 15 touchdowns and one interception.

Safety Trevon Moehrig makes a difficult tackle against SMU. Photo by Cristian ArquetaSoto.

Along with his time at safety, Moehrig has also been mentioned in the punt return conversation for TCU. Though he currently falls behind preseason All-Big 12 First Team receiver Jalen Reagor, Moehrig’s high school return resume and electric speed may put him in that position in the near future.

“I love returning punts. That’s something I did in high school,” Moehrig said with a smile on his face. “If they need me, I’m ready.”

In just four games, Moehrig has quickly established himself as a leader in Patterson’s third-ranked scoring defense in the conference. 

“I’ve been saying that he’s a good player. He’s the fastest, most physical guy – and he’s just a sophomore,” Patterson said. “But every week, he gets better.”