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SMSB alumnus Moe Ways evolves from football rookie to Michigan receiver

The redshirt freshman talks about giving back to his community and more.

Michigan redshirt freshman receiver Moe Ways speaks to campers at Sound Mind Sound Body on June 12, 2015.
Michigan redshirt freshman receiver Moe Ways speaks to campers at Sound Mind Sound Body on June 12, 2015.
Ricky Lindsay/Maize n Brew

Moe Ways was not always a talented football player.

The sport was not the former Detroit Country Day star's first choice, either — his heart belonged to basketball, where his 6-foot-4 frame thrived on the hardwood.

But students at the private prep school are required to participate in two sports, which sent Ways searching for a compliment to basketball.

"I was already playing basketball, so I picked up football just to do it," he recalled while speaking to campers at Friday's Sound Mind Sound Body football camp.

At first, football did not come without its struggles for Ways, a wide receiver.

"I was taller than everybody but I couldn't catch," Ways said. "I was out there just to be out there. I was terrible. I tried no gloves, I tried gloves, I tried tape, I tried glue; none of it worked."

As a rising junior in 2012, Ways discovered the Sound Mind Sound Body football camp, held in the Detroit area, and decided to give it a shot.

"I wasn't good," Ways said, "so I just came here like, 'I can only get better. I don't know anything, so coaches teach me, they got to know something more than I do.'"

Ways was right; he could only get better. 

Three years later, he is a redshirt freshman for the Michigan football team.

Participating in Sound Mind Sound Body's 2012 camp was just the start of Ways' evolution from a football newbie to Big Ten talent.

"It paid off, man, for real, they coached me up," Ways said. "I worked hard that summer, came back my senior year, by that time, I already committed to Michigan. These guys showed me how to become more of a man and that hard work gets you wherever you want in life, man. Ain't nothing given to you.

"I was a three-star, I wasn't highly recruited. But there were five stars that didn't have a Michigan offer, and I did as a three star. They told that star stuff don't matter, the guys who work the hardest will be the guys who play on Saturdays."

Ways visited the 2015 camp, held in Macomb, Mich., to speak to campers as an alumnus. He coveted the opportunity to give back after going through the same routine as a prep.

"It's a beautiful thing, man. I love giving back, especially (to) these guys," Ways said. "I used to be them two years ago, and I just want to help them out to make sure they get where I'm at and do it the right way. I had somebody there for me when I was their age so I want to be there for them."

Ways was not the lone Sound Mind Sound Body alumnus to speak at the camp; quarterback Shane Morris and fellow Michigan teammates Lawrence Marshall and Delano Hill were in attendance as well.

For David Reese, a 2016 athlete from Farmington, Mich. and Michigan commit, having access to peers that have been through the program and are playing college football is a nice luxury.

"It's great foreshadowing," Reese said. "I actually know a couple of those guys personally, so I really get to talk to them one-on-one to see where they're coming from."

Not many recruits have the same background Ways grew up with. At a camp that features over 1,000 campers and numerous Division-I coaches in attendance, it's easy to stray from the advice speakers offer if not well-rounded.

"A lot of guys (are) telling you that you're that guy and you're a four-star, five-star," Ways said. "But I'm very humble; I know that if it's given to me so fast, I can lose it like that too, so you have to treat it right."

For Ways, a Beverly Hills, Mich. native, having a notable camp stationed in the Detroit area is a great opportunity for athletes that cannot afford to attend large out-of-state camps.

After all, it helped him evolve into a Division-I college football talent.

"I couldn't really afford to go to all those types of camps. I could go to the Chicagos and Ohios, but the LA (camps), I couldn't go, so the fact they came to me, I made the best of it," Ways said. "You're all here in one spot, rather than go to a bunch of one-day camps, I can have one big camp today, do my best and see what happens. It worked out well for me, they can take advantage of this, it's a great opportunity for all the kids in Detroit."