Richard Davenport covers recruiting for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. He appears weekly on The Red Zone w/ JB on 92.1 FM Fayetteville, The Morning Rush w/ Tye & Tommy on 95.3 FM in Fort Smith; 96.3 FM in Hot Springs; 104.3 FM in Harrison/Mountain Home, 99.5 FM in Fayetteville and The Zone w/ Justin & Wess on 103.7 FM in Little Rock.
The Recruiting Guy:
Arkansas' Morgan goes from lightly recruited to All-SEC
Arkansas receiver Drew Morgan turns upfield after catching a pass during a game against Ole Miss on Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015, at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in Oxford, Miss.
Arkansas senior Drew Morgan didn't have the huge offer list that many of his fellow SEC receivers had coming out of high school, but he was one of a few named all-conference last year.
“Recruiting really went slow for him, I think that’s the thing that’s so frustrating,” said Greenwood Coach Rick Jones of Morgan, who was named second-team All-SEC as a junior.
The lack of interest from colleges wasn’t because of lack of productivity. Morgan rarely left the field as a senior at Greenwood High School, finishing the season with 83 receptions for 1,134 yards and 14 touchdowns, and rushing 82 times for 764 yards and 19 touchdowns. He was named the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s Offensive Player of the Year.
Defensively, he had 73 tackles, including 18 for loss, 2 1/2 sacks, 1 quarterback hurry, 3 interceptions, 3 forced fumbles, 1 recovered fumble and 2 pass breakups while playing safety and outside linebacker.
Morgan committed to Arkansas State the summer before his senior season. Then Arkansas running backs coach and recruiting coordinator Tim Horton saw Morgan earn MVP honors of the Class 6A state title game against Pine Bluff and two days later extended an offer.
A day later, Bret Bielema was named the head coach at Arkansas and Morgan was uncertain about the offer until Bielema reached out to him and said he was still wanted in Fayetteville.
Greenwood athlete Drew Morgan earned his second consecutive MVP award in a state title game on Saturday and impressed Tim Horton, Arkansas recruiting coordinator and running backs coach, enough to receive a scholarship offer on Monday morning.
Auburn came on late with an offer after Gus Malzahn was hired as the Tigers head coach and Horton joined the staff.
Jones said the Bulldogs' opponents urged more colleges to get on Morgan.
“All the high schools coaches, especially when the college coaches were around would say, ‘You need to get him, you need to get him,'" Jones said.
After recording minimal stats his first two seasons, Morgan led the Hogs with 63 receptions, 843 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns last year.
“I think everybody that played against Drew was really impressed, because he did so many things to help you win games," Jones said. "He made great plays on offense and great plays on defense. We even put him in the backfield and hand it off to him when we really needed him.”
Jones noted some of the reasons why other schools were slow to show interest.
“They just look for a certain type of guy,” Jones said. “A lot of times they want a guy that’s 6-2 or 6-3. The thing about Drew is he just had the ability to make plays in different ways. In the kicking game, catching the ball, running.”
There was a common theme when college coaches explained the lack of offers.
“The standard line is, ‘Oh we love him, but we just don’t have anything left to offer him. We love somebody else more,'” Jones said. “No one thought he was a bad player. They think they have better guys. They’re not trying to mess up, they’re trying to get it right.”
Morgan had intangibles colleges seemed to overlook.
“They have difficulty evaluating heart and guts and work ethic and dependability and durability,” Jones said. “The other abilities are a little bit easier to evaluate than dependability and durability.”
Jones believes Morgan could’ve shined on the other side of the ball.
“I really think if they would’ve put him on defense, he could’ve been a difference maker on defense,” Jones said.
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