Kentucky lost its coach but won the game.
Freshman QB nabs offer from Hogs
Arkansas football helmets sit atop storage bins during a game against Mississippi State on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017, in Fayetteville.
Freshman MJ Morris has all the makings of an elite quarterback in the Class of 2022, and the University of Arkansas was the first Power 5 school to see that.
The Hogs extended a scholarship offer to Morris on Feb. 8. He previously had offers from Valdosta State and Alabama State.
“My goal was to get a Power 5 offer my freshman year, and I’ve been working to get that and I’ve achieved that goal,” Morris said.
Morris, 6-2, 175 pounds, of Carroll-ton, Ga., completed 41 of 86 passes for 466 yards and 3 touchdowns while rushing 31 times for 342 yards and 4 touchdowns for the run-dominant Trojans who went 10-3 and reached the Class 5A semifinals.
He’s the first freshman quarterback to start for Carrollton Coach Sean Calhoun.
“He ended up starting five, but he played in just about every game,” Calhoun said. “To be honest, he probably should’ve been thrust into the starting job earlier, but I wanted him to have success.”
Morris played behind a junior at the start of the season.
“[MJ] was able to learn a little bit, and [MJ] just took over the job to be honest with you,” Calhoun said.
Calhoun realized Morris was something special when the two played catch when Morris was an eighth-grader.
“I’m thinking eighth-grader, he’s going to be throwing an eighth-grade ball,” Calhoun said. “Well, he threw a ball and it was about the tightest spiral I’ve ever seen. It almost knocked my face off.”
Morris recalls his reaction to Calhoun telling him about the offer.
“Very excited, almost being unbelievable,” Morris said. “It was the best feeling in the world.”
Morris plans to attend Arkansas’ Elite Passing Academy on June 14 after his father spoke to offensive coordinator Joe Craddock.
“My dad called Coach Craddock. He said he wanted me to get down to camp to see me throw in person, and I remind them a lot of Deshaun Watson and they can’t wait to get me down there,” Morris said.
Calhoun marvels at what Morris accomplished this past season while leading Carrollton in a competitive league and region.
“To start and play for us is an achievement in itself, and then to do it at such a young age just shows [MJ’s] maturity for his age,” Calhoun said.
Also an excellent center fielder in baseball, he plans to play both sports in college.
College coaches inquired about Morris during the December and January contact period while visiting the school.
“They all know who [MJ] is,” Calhoun said. “My phone has really started to blow up about people trying to get him to camp.”
Relationships led cornerback Jamie Vance to commit to Arkansas on Feb. 26.
Vance, 5-11, 170, of New Orleans Edna Karr, picked the Razorbacks over more than 10 scholarship offers from schools such as Mississippi State, Arizona State, Virginia, Houston, Kansas and others.
His comfort level with safeties coach Ron Cooper and corner-backs coach Mark Smith — along with knowing south Louisiana natives and Razorback defensive backs Greg Brooks, Joe Foucha and his former high school teammate Devin Bush — helped in making his decision.
“This is the new staff’s second year, and I have a real good relationship with them, especially coach Coop and coach Mark,” Vance said. “Dev, Greg and Joe are all up there, so I’m going to be comfortable playing around them because we are all from the same area and we all know each other.”
Bush spoke well about his experience at Arkansas.
“How the coaches keep their word with everything, and loyalty is the most important between us,” Vance said.
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