From 2-star TE to No.18, Foster Moreau's ascent 'tells a story'
Model teammate. Hard worker. Team guy.
These are coaching cliches, sure, but are more likely to appear on the back of Foster Moreau's football card than any other statistics.
Moreau was awarded the No. 18 jersey by the LSU coaches and players on Friday evening after a day comprised of team meetings before fall camp got underway the next morning. It was an honor that the senior tight end deemed "crazy," "cool," and perhaps most fittingly, "surreal."
After all, Moreau's story from National Signing Day in 2015 to Friday evening is very well-documented. The former Rivals 2-star tight end was offered by LSU after helping Jesuit capture a state championship in 2014, but that wasn't committable until a series of early morning phone calls the day of his signing ceremony and a conversation with former coach Les Miles that completely altered his plans.
As far as Jesuit coach Marc Songy is concerned, Moreau wasn't offered by LSU until Feb. 4, 2015, when Miles picked up the phone to ask if the team extended an overture to his tight end, would he commit? Songy had deemed his all-state selection as an obvious fit for his alma mater and couldn't decipher why LSU wasn't showing interest in him.
That all took a serious 180-degree turn that Signing Day.
Moreau was always big, always physical and always talented, and despite the 2-star label beside his name on recruiting sites and an offer that wasn't committable until the morning of, the person — and his demeanor — never wavered. So when Moreau was distinguished to be the 12th player in the Tigers' storied program's history to don No. 18, Songy saw the story come full circle.
"It tells a story that you need to look at the whole player," Songy told TigerDetails. "There might've been other players that were bigger, stronger and faster. There may have players with better numbers, but being able to see the type of player he developed into ... Foster is going to play in the NFL. There's no doubt in my mind he's going to make a career out of this. He always had some physical talents, but he has the work ethic and the approach that you want all kids to have.
"This game is about having fun playing and doing so by being as good as you can. I know that he's well thought of by his teammates and the coaching staff. We felt the same way about him as just the fun kid to be around. He still stops by. He doesn't forget where he came from. Our kids look up to him and want to be like him."
'A perfect model teammate'
There are no heroic anecdotes told about Moreau — merely consistency, knowing what you'll get from the vocal leader day in and day out. For anyone who has had the chance to speak with the 6-foot-6, 255-pound tight end, they know about his style.
Instead, Moreau shines brightest on under the lights on the football field.
That's been a steady theme for the New Orleans native dating back to his high school days. His teammate at Jesuit, quarterback Trey LaForge, delivered the majority of passes thrown Moreau's way during their time at Banks and Carrollton. That continued when LaForge joined Moreau at LSU, when the quarterback accepted a walk-on spot with the Tigers. Perhaps no one had a better seat to witness the characteristics associated with the No. 18 jersey in Moreau better.
"Throughout high school and into college, we were close. I admired his work ethic and his outlook toward the game," LaForge said. "He knows when the work hard and when to have fun, that's for sure. He has a one-of-a-kind personality, and that's what makes him who he is. He's worked hard to get where he's at today, and I think now he has a good opportunity to show that. Receiving the No. 18 is a huge honor and Foster will be a great fit for it."
But what quantifies someone as a fit for the sought-after number?
In 2017, the jersey number was issued to a pair of seniors: defensive lineman Christian LaCouture and former walk-on fullback J.D. Moore. LaCouture returned to LSU after suffering a camp injury that cost him the 2016 season, one that many felt would vault him up NFL draft boards that spring. Moore, who was originally handed a No. 130 jersey when he arrived in Baton Rouge, was the team's designated bulldozer out of the backfield with, of course, a 4.0 GPA to boast on the side.
It's clear that there's an X-factor when discussing those who have worn the No. 18 for the Tigers in the past — veteran leaders that possess a different sort of mindset, which is why Leonard Fournette believes there's much more than comes with being No. 18 for the Tigers than even No. 7.
Fournette could not think of anyone more deserving to bestow that jersey than his former teammate.
"It's a big responsibility," said Fournette, who's bracing for his second NFL season with the Jacksonville Jaguars. "It's someone that, through the years, is about leadership, responsibility and courage. In spite of injury, you fight through adversity. Foster was there when I was there, and he deserves that number because he has that character of the No. 18 and I feel like it's a job well-done for him."
When asked for an example of when Moreau displayed those No. 18-esque qualities, Fournette couldn't settle on just one occasion.
"He always did," he said, "when everybody was sluggish and lazy. If you called and asked him, he'd say he's a Fournette brother. It runs in his blood."
Songy couldn't agree more.
Moreau, who wore No. 82 for the Bluejays before switching to No. 84 at LSU, corralled 37 receptions for 550 yards and seven touchdowns during his senior campaign at Jesuit. More importantly — to him — was hoisting a state championship trophy to put the exclamation mark on his prep career, the Mid-City school's first in a half-century.
When it came to Moreau, there was never a shed of doubt about which player would show up to John Ryan Stadium for practice or Tad Gormley on Friday nights.
"He's an extremely hard worker, a big-time team guy and a perfect model teammate," Songy recalled. "He worked his tail off in practice. I never had to get on him much about effort at all, which is rare for any kids. He's a team guy, not so much worried about personal accolades. He did it every day, and that's the best thing that I could say. He came to practice with a smile on his face. Every day, he worked to get his teammates better ... That was just Foster."
A Signing Day to remember
Tricia Moreau picked up the phone at 7:30 a.m. on the morning of National Signing Day back in 2015. It was Cam Cameron, then LSU's offensive coordinator, who had long been assuring the Moreaus that their son would be playing in college football in Death Valley.
"Where's Foster?" Cameron asked.
He was in bed, trying to get back to sleep. Truth be told, Moreau was feeling under the weather -- and of all days, on one of the most important in his life.
"Well, tell him to get ready," the coach warned Tricia. "Les Miles will be calling him."
Songy's phone rang at 7:45 a.m. that same morning.
"If we offer Foster, would he take it?" the person asked.
The voice on the other line: Miles, who after getting word that Mississippi linebacker Leo Lewis was set to choose Mississippi State, had a scholarship to dish out in the 2015 class. His first choice was Moreau.
Tricia raced upstairs and forced her son to get moving. Moreau hopped in the shower only to jump out when he heard his phone ringing.
"Hold on," the voice on the line said around 8:02 a.m. "Les Miles would like to speak to you."
In that 32-minute span, Moreau's life changed forever.
The Jesuit product was set to have LSU, Tulane, Louisiana Tech and Air Force caps on the table, and Tulane — Tricia's alma mater where she played volleyball — was supposed to be the choice. Moreau was content with that decision, though his heart was always with LSU.
The night before, Moreau had come to terms with the fact that the opportunity to play for LSU had likely passed. Naturally, when the opportunity presented itself to reverse course and become a Tiger, there was virtually zero hesitation.
"It was such a long road," Tricia recalled. "Going to different schools, their junior days and visiting schools his junior and senior years while also playing basketball for Jesuit. We'd have a football game on Friday night, and then Saturday morning we'd travel to different colleges asking us to come up for games. Cam Cameron was a big supporter of Foster's from the beginning and he truly gave him a lot of inspiration and the thought that he would definitely be a player for LSU."
Miles and Cameron watched Moreau in Jesuit's state title game triumph over John Curtis. An offer was handed out 12 days later, though uncommittable at the time. Moreau went to sleep that Tuesday night primed to pick the Green Wave the next morning at his signing ceremony.
"LSU was slow-playing him," Songy explained. "I was upset about it because I thought they should've been on him all along. He's a Louisiana kid that wanted to go to LSU, and I couldn't find anything wrong with a guy with grades, attitude, size, speed and yeah, a state champion. It was surprising me to that it came down to Signing Day when they made the offer.
"Foster wanted to go to LSU all along. It was in the back of his mind. I thought it was the perfect fit for those guys. Whoever signed him was going to get a special type of player. He handled it with class. Normally, a kid that got a late offer would go in trying to prove something with a chip on his shoulder. Not Foster. He went in to have a good time playing ball and enjoyed it. With Foster, you know you're getting someone who's going in with both feet all the time."
Regardless of the path traveled, the ending was worth it.
"Foster heard the news," Tricia said, referring his her son's 8:02 a.m. phone call with Miles, "and here we are today."
From 7 to 18
Tricia was parked outside of Sacred Heart Academy in Uptown New Orleans on Friday night with her daughter, Claire. She was about to take her college-bound daughter out to celebrate amongst friends one last time before Claire departed for the University of Pennsylvania, where she was about to join the track squad.
Then, she received a text message from her brother.
"18," it read.
Tricia had heard rumors that her son was in the mix to be awarded the vaunted jersey number by the LSU coaches, but hadn't heard from her son yet that evening. She jumped into her messages to text him, but there was no response. After waiting, impatiently, she received a much-anticipated FaceTime call.
Alas, another reason to rejoice that evening.
"He finally FaceTimed me, and I looked at him with sheer excitement and the joy of knowing that he has done so much and has worked so hard and that it's such a great accomplishment. The idea that he was wearing No. 18 is so humbling. It's an amazing honor for him."
The overflow of emotions running through Tricia before picking up Claire to attend a celebration dinner was uncanny. When her daughter arrived at the car, she was unable to diagnose if Tricia was happy or sad, or possibly both.
"When Claire saw my face, she wasn't sure if it was good news or bad news. I was just really about to cry," Tricia remembered. "This amazing thing just came across."
Amazing doesn't do it justice either, especially considering Moreau's path to LSU.
The National Signing Day story aside, Moreau didn't exactly take the conventional path to the field. That should be expected, though, when you're the seventh tight end in a room when you first stepped foot on campus.
Moreau was handed a No. 43 uniform and was buried on the Tigers' depth chart behind a multitude of upperclassman and fellow freshmen that were ranked even higher by respective recruiting services.
Tricia and her son kept in touch throughout fall camp that August three summers ago, but even the most optimistic mother couldn't have predicted the phone she received before LSU was about to head to Syracuse for the fourth game of the season his freshman year.
"He called and said, 'Mom, I'm starting in my first game for LSU,'" a very surprised Tricia remembers clearly.
Quickly, Tricia packed a bag.
Moreau's mother hopped on the next flight to Upstate New York and watched as her son started at tight end, as a true freshman, in the Carrier Dome. Moreau started two other games that season — against Ole Miss and Alabama — and appeared in all 12 contests.
Heading into his senior season in Baton Rouge, Moreau now has a chance to finish in the top 10 of receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns by an LSU tight end. It would have been difficult to envision that being the case back in August of 2015, when Moreau was the seventh tight end at his first practice, or on Feb. 3, 2015 when he was planning to sign his letter of intent with Tulane.
Moreau's perseverance was the difference. A late scholarship or crowded depth chart never stymied the always-passionate Moreau, the new face of the LSU football program.
"Since the day we walked into the program, he's received so much support from the coaches, the staff and the players," Tricia sad. "The program has given him these opportunities ever since he was the seventh tight end, with him being the seventh. With hard work and dedication, everyone's support and his desire to work hard, he's put himself in the position he's in today. So many other players could have received this honor, but the honor bestowed upon him, it's amazing."
A family of 18s
It hasn't even been a full week of practice for Moreau in his new jersey. Yet the legacy is already developing.
Over the past four years, members of the Tigers' coaching staff have reached out to Songy to rave about the former 2-star prospect, who was the final piece of that talented 2015 class. So when LSU announced who was wearing the jersey last Friday night, his high school coach wasn't surprised. Rather, he reflected on the same boisterous tight end, ready to get to work.
"That No. 18 at LSU is all about a selfless player," Songy said. "He's made a lot of clutch plays for us when we needed him to, so it's not a surprise to me. I've talked to a lot of the LSU staff the past few years about how impressed and pleased they were with him. There are certainly a number of guys that were deserving of that No. 18, but it doesn't surprise me that Foster was the one who earned it."
Tricia, who was in Syracuse, N.Y., when her son got his first start for the Tigers, didn't have a customized jersey that day. It would have been hard to, considering she could have never anticipated a former seventh-stringer would get the nod four games into his collegiate career.
Tricia won't be in that position again, though.
Moreau's mother has a rather impressive collection of jerseys honoring her son, her No. 84 being the most commonly worn over the years. You can count on a new number when LSU travels to AT&T Stadium on Sept. 2 to take on Miami.
According to the always-witty Moreau, his mother joked she had no plans to buy another jersey.
But Tricia is already in the process of ordering a new No. 18 jersey with Moreau embroidered on the back, and she won't be alone. Moreau's grandparents, Patsy and Jimmy Hotard, will also be rocking No. 18 Moreau jerseys this season. As will her brothers and sister, nieces and nephews, all of whom are LSU alums.
Expect to see a whole section of No. 18's in Arlington, Texas, in stands next month and throughout fall camp and the season. After all, Tricia has missed only two games in the past three years, and with her son's now-legendary LSU career winding down, there is no room for any missed opportunities left.
"Every chance I get, I will be there," she said. "We will get the jersey, of course, and we'll be there. We have a huge family and we're going to get the No. 18 and put Moreau on the back of it. We'll have a huge group of people supporting No. 18 on the back of their jerseys. We're going to have as many people as possible supporting the program and supporting Foster this year."