Jordan Morgan isn’t like most high school football players committed to Division I colleges.
For one, Morgan doesn’t have Twitter or Facebook accounts — just Instagram and a profile on Hudl.com, a website where athletes post their highlight tapes and stats.
Playing college football was never originally in Morgan’s plans. Not when he played Pop Warner football with the Redskins, Raiders and Steelers — and certainly not when he first suited up at Marana High School.
“I thought it would never happen,” he said. “I thought I was just going to graduate from high school and then go to college,” Morgan said.
The 6-foot-5-inch, 275-pound Morgan will sign with Arizona on Wednesday, the early national signing day. The Wildcats were the first major-college program to offer him a scholarship. Since then, he’s received scholarship offers from USC and Arizona State.
“I remember the first time (UA) Coach (Kevin) Sumlin saw him up at NAU when I took him to the camp up there and he was just in awe,” Marana coach Louie Ramirez said. “He’s the most athletic tackle that I’ve ever seen. I don’t think I’ll ever have a guy that does what Jordan does. … You can’t replace a Jordan Morgan, you really can’t.”
Kyle Quinn agrees. Marana’s offensive line coach played at the UA from 2008-12, and knows what it takes to be successful in the Pac-12.
“I saw Jordan on the first day and my eyes popped. I said ‘Wow this kid is a gem,’” Quinn said. “Just seeing how far he came along in the weight room during summer workouts, it was like ‘Wow this kid isn’t even done growing yet.’ … He’s a very young kid, but he’s very hungry and wants to get better.”
Once the secret was out — that Morgan was an athletic lineman with room to grow — the UA had an even tougher challenge: Keeping Morgan in Tucson. Quinn, a Wildcat to the core, was admittedly worried that Morgan would become a Trojan or, worse, a Sun Devil. USC coach Clay Helton traveled to Marana on Sept. 28, and was on the sideline when the Tigers hosted Sierra Vista Buena.
Of course, Morgan was tempted.
“I was really leaning towards USC, because it’s a really good school and they have a really good football program,” Morgan said. “They took the time to come watch me play and they showed that they really wanted me.”
Given time to think about it, however, Morgan went with his gut — and what was best for his family.
“It was home for me,” he said. “I was always just thinking about my parents. I wanted to save them time from flying and worrying about me.”
Said Quinn: “Coach Sumlin did a great job recruiting him. He was not going to let Jordan get away from him.”
When he signs on Wednesday, Morgan will join a small fraternity of Marana players to suit up for the UA. Running back Paul Robinson graduated from MHS in 1963 and, after a UA career, went on to play for the NFL’s Bengals. Clay Hardt played safety for the Wildcats in the early 2000s.
Morgan is the next man up.
“It was really cool to see him become a Wildcat and stick with the red, white and blue,” Quinn said.
Morgan joins a recruiting class that includes junior college offensive tackle Josh Donovan from Texas and Floridian Jamari Williams. The UA returns rotation players Josh McCauley, Cody Creason, Thiyo Lukusa, Michael Eletise, Donovan Laie and Bryson Cain, and will add Texas A&M transfer Robert Congel.
Morgan may struggle to play right away, but his athleticism and quickness for an offensive tackle could have him ready for the college pace.
Morgan will spend the spring semester bulking up, with the goal of adding 15 pounds.
“It looks effortless when he plays offensive line. When you see 300-pounders move — and we’re big people — it looks uncomfortable,” Quinn said. “But with Jordan, it looks natural.”
Ramirez says Morgan regularly does the right thing.
“There is no gray area with Jordan,” Ramirez said. “I’m talking academically, I’m talking weight room, I’m talking off the field and on the field.”
For now, though, Morgan will relish the simple act of signing a national letter-of-intent.
“I’ll just be thinking about my future,” he said. “Knowing that I’m playing D-I football, I made it.”