Freshman WR Justin Moffatt arrived at the Coast Guard Academy ready for service

Coast Guard's Justin Moffatt (83) shows he still has the ball after being tackled just outside the end zone by  Alfred State's Austin Parker (32) in college football action Thursday, Aug. 31 at Cadet Memorial Field in New London.  (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
Coast Guard's Justin Moffatt (83) shows he still has the ball after being tackled just outside the end zone by Alfred State's Austin Parker (32) in college football action Thursday, Aug. 31 at Cadet Memorial Field in New London. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)

New London — It is an institution where, as coach Bill George said Wednesday afternoon, even Clark Kent would have trouble adjusting to playing football right after going through the Coast Guard Academy's rigorous summer indoctrination program for incoming freshmen, Swab Summer.

Justin Moffatt is also taking 22 credits worth of classes on top of that, more, certainly than most of his buddies from back home in Odessa, Fla.

And yet, Moffatt, the 6-foot-1, 200-pound freshman wide receiver, who played last season for Naval Academy Prep in Newport, R.I., is distinguishing himself for the Bears, catching a touchdown in each of his first two career games. Coast Guard (1-1) plays at home at 1:30 p.m. Saturday against Nichols (2-0), the Bears' final nonleague game before beginning play next week in the inaugural New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference.

"It prepared me to be here," Moffatt said of Naval Prep. "I already have good time management as a freshman. I knew what I was getting myself into. (The discipline) was natural to me by then.

"Football here is definitely the best part of the day. We have to square at meals (and not look at the food). Out there, I'm just at peace. It's something I've been doing since I was 4."

Moffatt is a graduate of Steinbrenner High School in Lutz, Fla., where he scored 17 touchdowns as a senior (9 rushing, 8 receiving) to lead the Warriors to a playoff berth. George said the first tapes of Moffatt he ever saw were of the high school senior running the Wildcat formation at quarterback due to an injury to Steinbrenner's QB.

Moffatt always wanted to attend the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., and drew some recruiting interest from the Divison I program. He said his uncle served in the Navy for 24 years and his grandfather was a marine pilot in the Vietnam War.

It was during spring break his senior year, still unsigned, that Moffatt was headed to the beach when he got a phone call from George, he said, pitching the Coast Guard to him.

"I was excited," Moffatt said. "I really wanted to go to a service academy. I think serving in the Coast Guard would be better."

He was a part of the biggest Naval Prep class in recent history, said George, who made a few trips to Newport last year. George even drove to Newport and back twice in one day last year to pick Moffatt up and drive him to an eye appointment back in New London.

"Navy (Prep) said he was one of the top guys," George said. "... He's got quick feet, athletic ability, excellent hands, balance. He's made a lot of sideline catches this year."

So far, Moffatt has team-highs with 11 catches for 146 yards and two touchdowns, ranking third in the NEWMAC with 73 yards per game. In a Week 1 victory over Alfred State, he caught a picturesque pass at the 1-yard-line from quarterback Ethan Goldcamp, hugging the right sideline, and later broke away for a 37-yard touchdown.

"It was kind of an outside screen pass," Moffatt said of the touchdown. "(Right tackle) Cory Tomasetti, he shoots out and hits the corner. After that I found my hole and used my vision. If he didn't block on that play, I wouldn't have scored."

Moffatt followed with an 8-yard touchdown last week in a 28-13 loss to Union, finishing with career highs of nine catches and 91 yards.

Moffatt's arrival has been well-timed for Coast Guard, which has missed all-conference wide receiver Darius Adams for the first two games with a hamstring injury and will be without Adams again this week. Moffatt has fit in well, meanwhile, with an otherwise experienced receiving corps, including starters Cody Bain (10 catches, 88 yards, 1 TD), Chip Crowley (7 catches, 118 yards) and Jackson Morton (3 catches, 33 yards).

The freshman is also proficient at blocking, having played wide receiver in Navy Prep's triple-option offense a year ago.

"I think it's my competitive spirit," Moffatt said of what allows him to excel. "This is my 16th year and I've never missed a game. When I get on the football field, it's a different me. If the ball is anywhere in my vicinity, I'm going to try to get it.

"I think I'm doing a pretty good job of helping the team so far, helping fill (Adams') big shoes. I got the play book down pretty good. There's still times in the game where I don't catch a signal (from the sideline in the Bears' no-huddle offense) and I'm like, 'What?'"

v.fulkerson@theday.com

     

Coast Guard Academy freshman Justin Moffatt (83) leads the team with 11 catches for 146 yards and two touchdowns so far this season. The Bears will face Nichols in a nonleague game Saturday at Cadet Memorial Field. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
Coast Guard Academy freshman Justin Moffatt (83) leads the team with 11 catches for 146 yards and two touchdowns so far this season. The Bears will face Nichols in a nonleague game Saturday at Cadet Memorial Field. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)

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