August 17, 2010

Coach: Maurice Morgan provides a boost

It doesn't take very long for fans to notice the athletic prowess of NC State commitment Maurice Morgan when he's on the football field. In fact, North Lenoir head coach Calvin Sutton, who graduated from the school in 2000, says that he knew Morgan as a youngster and it was clear years ago that the kid had some special talents.

"He's one of the best athletes in North Carolina," Sutton said. "I've known Maurice almost all of his life. Right now, Maurice is the same way that he was when he was nine, ten years old. Back then, you already knew he was going to be a star; he could fly and jump out of the gym. It's almost like a prophecy foretold.

Morgan is currently the do-it-all star for the Hawks, lining up as a wide receiver, tailback, wingback, safety and linebacker. Sutton even hinted that a package with Morgan under center is in the works, which can't be an opportunity that has opponents' mouths watering. The most difficult thing about coaching Morgan, who was moved up to the varsity squad as a sophomore, may be finding where to line up the stellar athlete.

"Maurice is a type of kid that does everything," Sutton said. "His athletic ability gives coaches the possibility to do a lot of things with him. With his size, he's 6-2 and 215 pounds; speed, he runs a 4.4 40; and ability, we just like to get the ball in his hands different ways and allow him to make plays."

At a Shrine Bowl combine in May, Morgan impressed observers by recording a 4.38 40-yard dash, 4.28 on the shuttle, 28 inches on the vertical jump and ten repetitions on the bench press at 185 pounds.

Last fall, the versatile prospect ran for around 700 yards, serving as one of only a few bright spots for the Hawks, who won two games. Although he missed two games due to injury last season, Morgan has accumulated 1,500 total yards of offense and 15 touchdowns during his varsity career.

"His main concern is being a complete player on both sides of the ball because he's going to be playing both ways this year," the coach said while adding that Morgan doesn't offer objections to his coach's positional plans, the player just goes about getting the job done.

Sutton feels that playing those multiple positions now will help Morgan down the road. When he finally receives an assignment with the Pack, he'll have game experience at that spot, as well as the spot on the other side of the ball. Morgan currently projects to be a safety or wide receiver when he suits up in the Red and White.

"I think it will [help] because he'll be a guy who is kind of familiar with not just one position, but all [positions]. At defensive back, he can cover the flats because he knows what the running backs are doing out of the backfield and he'll cover wide receivers because he can recognize routes. He's a guy that has familiarity on both sides of the ball."

Needless to say, the coach is relieved to not be the one choosing where to play Morgan at the next level.

"Maurice's name was on a lot of college's recruiting boards and, not only that, but his name was probably on the board a couple of times at each of those schools; wanting him offensively and defensively," Sutton said. "I think what really drew him to State and the thing that he liked was that they wanted to bring him in and really see what would be his best fit instead of just bringing him in and saying, 'you're going to do this.' They want to make sure he's at the right spot, that he's going to enjoy it and he's going to be productive for the team. I think you can solidify a lot of stuff once you have him on campus and you see what's around him."

Morgan excels in many other areas off of the football field, as well. He is a starter on the basketball team that earned all-conference honors last season while averaging ten points and ten rebounds per contest. He is also a member of the track and field team and is a standout in the classroom. Sutton says that he gives other North Lenoir players a shining example to follow.

"One thing we try to stress in our program is being a complete student athlete and he is that; that's Maurice in a nutshell," Sutton said.

"The kids look up to him naturally because of his ability; they know the things that he can do. They rely on him to pretty much carry the load because they know he can. They look to him as a leader, especially with him just signing. They're starting to understand it: you can't keep hard work down for too long. Maurice does what he is supposed to on and off the field and, at some point and time; that kind of stuff has to get rewarded. I'm just glad that it happened to him."

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