Matt Moss didn't want to be on Texas A&M's side of the stadium. Now, though, he wouldn't have it any other way.
Moss, a native of El Cajon, Calif., was offered a ticket to the 2006 Holiday Bowl, which pitted the Aggies against the Cal Golden Bears.
"I was like 'Lets go', and we thought, 'I hope we get to sit on Cal's side,' because we knew some people that played on Cal. But, we ended up sitting on the A&M side," Moss said. "It was interesting because I was around a pocket of [die-hard fans] on the A&M sideline. We were wearing regular street clothes and we showed up in jackets and hats, all laid back and relaxed, and everyone else was in maroon and we're thinking we probably stick out like a sore thumb."
Moss, a defensive end playing at Grossmont Junior College, and his friend may have stood out in the crowd, but they soon felt like they belonged after receiving a history lesson on Aggie football and traditions.
A&M kept it close for a half but was steamrolled after the break, falling 45-10.
The score didn't matter to Moss. In fact, it helped solidify his view of everything he was being told by those surrounding him.
"I'm thinking these fans stayed there the whole time," Moss recalled. "Even though Cal was beating them, they never left their seat. They were rooting for the Aggies no matter what."
It wasn't too long after when Moss nearly fell out of his seat, as he was offered a football scholarship from then-head coach Dennis Franchione.
"It's funny that I was there watching, not even expecting anything, and the next thing you know that school offers me," said Moss, who ironically also was given an A&M cap by another friend not long after the Holiday Bowl. "So my buddy is saying, 'You got to go there,' telling me from day one that I had to pick that school."
Two years later it's as difficult for Moss to believe Thursday will be his last game at Kyle Field as the sequence of events that led to his decision on attending A&M.
"It's sad just knowing my last game at Kyle Field is coming up this Thursday. Last Saturday, me and Lee [Grimes] were talking about how it was the last Saturday game at Kyle Field," Moss said. "It's special. There is no other experience I've had in my college career. I mean playing at Cowboys Stadium was great, but nothing ever matches playing at Kyle Field, knowing those 30,000 students have your back, standing up the whole game."
Moss cherished his two seasons at Grossmont, where he helped lead the Griffins to a 10-2 record and No. 8 national ranking, leaving as one of the top junior college defensive ends.
He still talks to the coaches there at least once a month and works out with the team, lifting weights and running when he goes home.
He couldn't help but think about what it would have been like to have played all four years at A&M.
"I'm jealous of those guy that get four years to play at a school. It's rough coming in here for two years. I didn't redshirt, so when I got here it was real hard because all of a sudden I was thrown into the mix," Moss said. "Guys here 4 or 5 years, they get to enjoy and see everything and it's kind of rough just getting to go to places only one time."
Moss added that one phone call from new head coach Mike Sherman was all he needed to realize A&M was the place to be, despite being recruited by the previous regime.
Moss does have fond memories of his one trip to Lubbock. The 6-foot-3, 258-pounder had three solo tackles and a sack against the Red Raiders, but it was the atmosphere late in the game and afterward that he'll never forget.
"It's one of my favorite memories so far," Moss said. "I hope to make another memory, but beating Tech and being in the locker room afterward with Coach Sherman, seeing how excited he was, pouring Gatorade over everybody jumping up and down. There is no amount of money anybody could give me to not be in there."
The sack was also satisfying because it helped send home some of the fans that had berated them just a few hours earlier when they walked across the field to their locker room.
After coming off the bench last season, Moss has started every game as a senior and has 21 tackles, 2 1/2 sacks and an interception while opposite the nation's sack leader, Von Miller.
The interception was special because defensive ends don't get their hands on the ball very often. It came in the Aggies' lone home loss this season.
"If I would have been able to break a tackle or get a few more yards or a touchdown, we might have been able to win the game," Moss said. "You always think about that as a football player."
Moss will have other thoughts on his mind this Thursday with the 10-year anniversary of the bonfire collapse. Moss lived more than 1,000 miles away and was barely in junior high at the time.
It didn't take long for Moss to realize the significance after another A&M history lesson, this one from then A&M assistant coach Mark Tommerdahl.
"Coach Tommerdahl was the one who recruited me and he brought us immediately to the Bonfire Memorial," Moss said. "Not even being a part of A&M and not having signed yet, it still made my heart heavy reading about all the people that were the same age as you are, losing life short of what's supposed to be."
NOTES -- Matt Moss' younger brother, Daniel, is about 6-2, 275 pounds and only played only one year of high school football but will attend Grossmont. He is a defensive tackle. ... Matt Moss isn't the only one to have enjoyed the Aggie experience. His father, Keith, lives in El Cajon, Calif., has made every Aggie game over the past two years and has bought a house in College Station. ... Moss first visited A&M in the summer. His two recollections were "It was HOT," and that former A&M linebacker Mark Dodge drove three or four hours to have dinner with him.