Over the last century, Long Beach Poly’s football program has produced hundreds of scholarships for local football players. Many have gone to the Pac-12 (and USC in particular), others have starred in the SEC or in other power-five conferences. Two seniors this year are hoping to blaze a trail for the next generation of Jackrabbits to play at Historically Black Colleges and Universities, better known by the acronym HBCUs.
Wendell “Wowo” Moe and Donovan Turner both recently committed to HBCU Morgan State, a Division 1 university in Baltimore, which competes in the MEAC, an HBCU conference.
“I’m excited to grow and learn while being around people that I’m like,” said Turner. “Growing up I’ve been in Long Beach my whole life, I haven’t been outside of this circle. So I want to go across the country and meet new people, but also being around people who share my culture. A lot of HBCUs, they may not be the biggest football programs, but they all have great history.”
Turner is a defensive back that’s also played a little receiver for the Jackrabbits this year, and had other Division 1 scholarship offers from schools like UNLV. The 6-foot-1 senior has a lot of college-projectible talents–he’s also relieved to be committing to an NCAA school given the bizarre effect that COVID-19 has had on recruiting.
“Growing up I always heard that junior year was the most important year for recruiting, and last year was messed up because of COVID so we only got a few games,” he said. “Morgan State gave me this opportunity and I’m excited about it.”
For Moe, Morgan State was a good fit for a variety of reasons, including academically. He said he’s excited to go somewhere with a strong academic reputation, but also a place that was willing to work with his grades. A strong student most of his academic career, Moe struggled with school last year when campuses closed. His grades took a hit as he was dealing with losses in his family, and the challenge of online learning. This year, Moe is a 4.0 GPA student, a turnaround he credits in part to Poly’s academic coach, Mayra Sanchez.
“I didn’t think that it was possible for me to get a scholarship after my schoolwork last year, but they put my info in with what I’ve done this year and they were able to offer me,” said Moe. “My brother is in a junior college right now and he told me if I can go straight to a four-year that I should do it.”
Moe said that his uncle went to North Carolina A&T, a fellow HBCU, and also encouraged him.
“The experience sounds great, I’ve heard nothing but good things,” said Moe.
After serving as a two-way star on Poly’s offensive and defensive lines (he’s the Moore League’s reigning Lineman of the Year), Moe said he’s ready to serve in whatever role Morgan State wants him to.
“Defensive tackle or offensive line, whatever they need me to do I’m going to do it,” said Moe.