WEST BLOOMFIELD, Mich- The West Bloomfield High School Football team slowly made their way down to the field from the parking lot. It was 9 a.m. The dead period was over and the restart of summer conditioning was about to commence.
Leading the group were Tre Mosley and Lance Dixon. Mosley, a three-star 2019 wide receiver, wearing a Michigan State green shirt. Dixon, a four-star linebacker in the 2019 class, donned a white shirt. Scripted across the middle spelled “The Opening”. He had just returned from Dallas where he competed in the Nike Opening Final competition. It was their first practice since Mosley committed to Michigan State on June 29 and Dixon two days later to Penn State on July 1.
Mosley and Dixon have become the faces of a new culture at West Bloomfield. Once a program that struggled to scrape away with three wins every season, finished as a state runner-up in 2017. An influx of talent had sprouted in the metro Detroit suburb headlined by the two star athletes.
Mosley and Dixon had been working up to this moment in their football careers. They became friends in the 7th grade and have stuck by each other’s side through everything. As their final season of high school football begins, Mosley and Dixon also prepare for college football; as in-conference foes.
It was the night of June 27. Mosley walked into his room and laid on his bed. His father, Bert, trailed close behind and sat next to his son. They stared together at the big college board that Tre made and hung on his wall. Each college had pros and cons, all were documented and processed by Mosley.
The eagerness of making a college decision was getting the best of him. He was ready to commit.
“It came down to Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, and Missouri,” said Mosley
For weeks beforehand Mosley was all in on becoming a Michigan Wolverine. He was ready to become Jim Harbaugh’s next verbal commit. That night however, something changed while looking at his pros and cons board and talking to his dad. They sat there for almost an hour, weighing where the perfect fit for Tre is and where he should spend the next four years of his football career.
“This was going to set me up for the rest of my future so I wanted to make sure it was the right decision,” Mosley said.
A decision was made. Michigan was not Mosley’s best fit. However, the school just over 60 miles north in East Lansing was destined to be his next home.
“Honestly it was the stability in the coaching staff,” said Mosley. “Coach D (Dantonio) has been there for a while. They have used the same system for a couple of years and I am really close with the other 2019 recruits.”
He quickly grabbed his phone and called his coach, Ron Bellamy, a former Michigan wide receiver, who has become one of the best high school athlete developers in the state, and let him know how excited he was and was ready to select a commitment date.
— IceTre❄️¹ᵏ (@Tremosley7) June 29, 2018
His next phone call went to Mark Dantonio.
“He was very excited,” said Mosley. “We face-timed for a little bit and talked. He wanted to make sure that I really wanted to do this. He did not want me to commit if I wasn’t ready.”
When Mosley’s announcement went public two days later, one of the first texts came from Dixon.
“I was very excited for him,” Dixon said. “We’ve been grinding since 7th-8th grade together so just to come to this point is a great feeling.”
For Dixon, his decision to attend Penn State was made much earlier in the recruiting cycle. It was a secret to the public, but Mosley knew for a while that one of his best friends was on his way to become a Nittany Lion.
“I knew about Lance for a while but I kept it a secret so he could have his moment when it was his turn,” Mosley said.
James Franklin rolled out the red carpet for Dixon, one of the most coveted 2019 linebackers in the class. He took his official visit to Penn State last year on October 21. The Nittany Lions were playing Michigan in one of the biggest games of the year. Under the lights. During a white out.
The electricity was uncanny. The atmosphere was bone-chilling. The thought of being able to play in front of this crowd seven games a year was too good of an opportunity to pass up. Even though there were five schools in the final hunt for Dixon, all of them had to track down Penn State.
“Everything just felt right on that day,” said Dixon. “It was a great experience. Being able to think that I could play in that stadium one day was a great feeling.”
Even though Penn State catapulted to the top of Dixon’s list, he was not ready to make a final decision. Bellamy, helped with that.
“He wanted to make sure I didn’t commit to the wrong place because of one game,” said Dixon.
Multiple visits to Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, and Wisconsin could not sway his opinion. Two weeks before Dixon made his final decision, he relayed his intentions to Franklin and the rest of Penn State’s coaching staff. His commitment went public two days after Mosley’s and nobody was more excited than his future Big Ten opponent.
“It was his turn to get the spotlight,” Mosley said.
Helping us through it
The recruiting process can be fun. Having coaches from all over the country lay out the red carpet to get an athlete to come to their school makes a kid feel special. However, the dark side of the recruiting cycle is stressful. It can only be explained by the athletes themselves. That is no different for Mosley and Dixon.
“It was stressful but it was fun,” Mosley said. “I got to pick and choose when to handle it but there was some times with stress when 20 different coaches are blowing up your phone and you don’t know who is who.”
Luckily, he had a friend in Dixon going through the same process and running into the same programs.
Mosley and Dixon were both “Big Ten guys” throughout their recruitment and were looking at most of the same schools. Having a buddy to bounce off ideas and advice took some pressure off their shoulders.
“We definetly talked a lot through the process about schools we liked and didn’t like and why we liked them,” said Mosley. “Also coaches, players, scheming. You have to do your research so it was good to be going through it with a teammate.”
Having a coach in Bellamy who experienced the highs and lows of the recruiting process himself was helpful as well.
Bellamy was a high school standout at Archbishop Shaw High School in Louisiana. He developed relationships with the likes of Mark Dantonio, Jim Harbaugh, and James Franklin during his recruiting process that still stick today.
“Coach Bell definitely helped us out,” Mosley said. ” I don’t think I would have been able to get through it without him. He did his part in my recruitment by getting my name out to coaches, and make sure I was on the right path.”
Bellamy talked about Mosley and Dixon as if they were his two kids. A relationship like that doesn’t happen overnight. It started in middle school, when Bellamy coached them in 7th and 8th grade basketball. Six years later, their relationship has continued to grow into a family-like bond that will never be broken.
He watched them grow “from young boys into young men,” Bellamy said.
He watched them develop their skills in the classroom, the community, and, of course, on the field.
“I would put these boys against anybody,” said Bellamy.
The end of the recruitment cycle brought some relief to Mosley and Dixon. A chance to finally stop thinking about the future and instead focus on the present, their upcoming high school season. For Mosley and Dixon, it is one final chance to lead the Lakers to another strong season.
“Now our focus can be on getting a state championship and put this recruitment stuff out the way,” said Mosley.
The Lakers fell in the State Championship last season to local rival Clarkston High School by a score of, 3-2. They are one of the favorites to make it back to Ford Field this year.
Mosley and Dixon both plan on graduating high school early and attending their respective schools in January. A decision that Bellamy strongly agrees with.
For Mosley, it is a chance to dive right in to the playbook and try to find a spot on the field as a true freshman.
“I just want to help the team,” Mosley said. “From day one I’m going to come in and give everything that I got and just better myself and the team. If that means come in and play early I’m down for it. If that means come in and wait my turn, I’m also down for it.”
He has the tools to be a contributor when Michigan State opens their season Aug 31 against Utah State. His speed is eye-opening, his hands are strong, and his leadership on and off the field is an ever-growing trait. However, behind a receiving group that could be one of the best in the Big Ten, it may be hard to find much playing time. But if there is ever a young and hungry guy to find some, Mosley could.
“He’s not the most athletic receiver I have had but he is the best,” Bellamy said. ” He’s the smartest. He understands the game and he’s the ultimate competitor. He wants to be great.”
Dixon is in the same situation at Penn State. He is the prototype of a “viper” linebacker. His speed on the edge is one of his best qualities and his coverage skills are not far behind.
“I have to put on some more weight to be a great Big Ten linebacker,” Dixon said. “I think I can be a player that can stay on the field for all four downs.”
However, for one last season Mosley and Dixon will work on the field together, as teammates. Then, they will be the best of rivals.
“The trash talk hasn’t started yet, but once we get through the season it’s definitely going to go down,” Mosley said. “Especially Penn State week.”