From Harvard Square to West End

Harvard graduate playing key role for the Commodores

by Andrew Maraniss

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Justice Shelton-Mosley understands that no athletic career lasts forever. When he enters the business world someday, he says he’ll miss the rush of having thousands of people cheering his team’s every move on the football field.

Which is one reason why Shelton-Mosley, a graduate transfer wide receiver and returner from Harvard, says he’s determined to make the most of his opportunity to play football for the Commodores and earn an MBA from Vanderbilt’s prestigious Owen Graduate School of Business.

“This,” he says, “is a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

Shelton-Mosley comes to Vanderbilt after a highly productive career on the field at Harvard. He was an explosive kick returner for the Crimson and ranks in the top-5 all-time at Harvard in both receptions and receiving yards. Those numbers would have been even higher had he not missed most of last season with a leg injury. In the opener against Georgia, Shelton-Mosley contributed a reception and 25-yard rush.

Shelton-Mosley excelled in the classroom as well, earning a degree in economics. He says he especially enjoyed a big data course last year where he examined tax data and other economic indicators to assess intergenerational mobility in low-income neighborhoods. When his football days are over, he plans to work in investment banking.

A native of Sacramento, California, Shelton-Mosley says football fans shouldn’t underestimate the talent in the Ivy League, pointing to several NFL players and two fellow Ivy League graduate transfers who preceded him to Vanderbilt last year — punter Parker Thome (Columbia) and defensive lineman Louis Vecchio (Penn).

Still, he admits playing in the SEC is a challenge he relishes. The stadiums will be bigger, the spotlight brighter, the competition elite. Already in workouts, he says it’s clear the intensity is higher, the players more skilled.

“I’m someone who loves new environments and meeting new people,” he said. “The players have been very accepting. It’s always kind of tough joining a new team whether you are a freshman or a transfer, but the guys here have made it an easy transition. This is a special place with a lot of special people.”

He says the same is true for the students and professors he’s met at Owen. “The Vanderbilt name and Owen being ranked in the top 30 were big reasons why I wanted to come here,” he said. “You have a lot of smart people here who have had experiences I can learn from. That networking aspect is so important and will be beneficial when I move forward from football.”

Walking off the field after a recent practice, Shelton-Mosley said there’s one more reason he’s happy to be playing his final year of college football at Vanderbilt. With family members in California, Ohio and Maryland, his decision to move up to the highest level of the game has made it a whole lot easier for them to see him play. “They can watch my games now,” he says, “so they’re just as excited as I am.”

Editor’s Note: Shelton-Mosley is one of six new graduate students on the Vanderbilt roster, joining offensive lineman Rowan Godwin, snapper Scott Meyer, quarterback Riley Neal, cornerback Cam Watkins and defensive lineman Eddie Zinn-Turner.