MONROE – Yeah, I went by. I’ll admit it. I drove by 417 Shamrock Drive in Monroe on Sunday night. It’s hard to explain but I just kind of wanted to see for myself. Curious, I guess, and just mortified by the tragedy of it all.
It’s where Quentin Moses and two of his loved ones died several hours earlier in a house fire. By the time I came by it was dark and relatively desolate except for a couple of news trucks. Earlier in the day, they say that cars lined both sides of Shamrock and stretched around the corner all the way up Alcovy Street. I suspect most of them were like me. They knew “Q.”
His name was Quentin Omario Moses, but everybody called him Q-Moses, Q-Mo or just “Q.” Actually, that says a lot about him. He was one of those people that everybody just inexplicably liked. Quentin just sounded too formal for his disposition. He was kind of bigger than life, both physically and in personality.
“I heard about Q Mo in church and immediately started crying,” his former teammate David Pollack said on Twitter. “I’ll miss that smirk.”
And that’s kind of how I remember Moses, too. He was big and imposing, but it was sort of like he didn’t take himself too seriously. That might have bothered some focused nothing other than athletic potential.
And Q had a ton of that. I remember hearing about him well before he arrived at UGA. I seem to recall as he was coming out of Cedar Shoals High there being some question as to whether he’d play football or basketball in college. As it turns out, he did both. He appeared in three games on Jim Harrick’s great basketball team of 2002-03.
That came after his redshirt season of 2002 in football, which some considered a disappointment. There was a lot of hype surrounding Moses when he signed with UGA out of Cedar Shoals during a time where there wasn’t quite the emphasis on stars as there is now. But it just so happened that Moses arrived playing the same position as one David Pollack. So it took him a while to get on the field regularly.
In fact, Moses played on some very good defenses with some very good players, and at his position in particular. He was the bookend for Charles Johnson as a senior in 2006 and the Bulldogs’ defensive MVP when he was playing opposite of Will Thompson on the team that would claim Georgia’s last SEC championship in 2005.
Oh-Five is the season that would ultimately earn Moses his fame and a modest fortune. I remember him gobbling up two fumbles against Boise State in a lopsided season-opening win that year, and he was off and running. He racked up 11.5 quarterback sacks and 20.5 tackles for loss, which remains the eighth- and second-best single-season totals in Georgia history. He was consensus All-SEC, with some All-America mentions as well.
There was a lot of talk about Q-Mo turning pro after that season. But he came back and had the biggest picture posted on the cover of the 2006 media guide of four seniors represented. His sacks fell to just 4.5 that year, but there was still enough intrigue about him that the Oakland Raiders drafted him in the third round.
The Raiders cut him, but he managed four NFL seasons with the Miami Dolphins. Moses would give some of the peripheral football leagues a go for a couple of years. But he turned his attention to coaching at Reinhardt College in 2012, and that’s what he was doing when tragedy struck in the pre-dawn morning on Sunday in Monroe.
Nobody’s sure just yet exactly what happened. Moses’ body was the only one of the three persons staying in the one-story that firefighters were able to reach. He was unconscious and moved outside where CPR was applied until he got to Clearview Medical Center, according to fire department officials. He was declared dead upon arrival.
The roof collapsed in the small brick-and-siding home before they could reach Andria Godard and her 10-year-old daughter, Jasmine. They were the widow and daughter of Moses’ Cedar Shoals teammate and close friend, the late Xavier Godard, who died in a drowning accident in 2007, according to the Athens Banner-Herald. It’s being said that Moses might’ve been trying to get to them. There have been no official statements to verify that’s true or not, but sad and tragic no matter how it happened.
When I drove by hours later, the dark of night obscured from view that the roof of the house was now missing. Besides the yellow police tape, all that could be seen were a basketball goal, a trampoline and a makeshift shrine of balloons, stuffed animals and colorful posters with hand-scrawled love notes.
You could tell that not so long ago this was a vibrant, happy place. Now it was anything but.