FAYETTEVILLE — A lot of Grant Morgan’s life has been a ready and chasing sport that the dynamo College of Arkansas linebacker went forward and made a press release about it.
If Morgan strikes the left elbow brace he is been sporting since Week 2 out of the way in which it is proper there in ink on his left bicep.
“II Corinthians, 15:7” the tattoo reads.
“Be sturdy and you’ll be rewarded,” Morgan mentioned to summarize the verse.
The model quoted by his father Matt Morgan, is, “As for you, be sturdy and don’t hand over, on your work shall be rewarded.”
After chasing his brother Drew’s stellar profession however not attaining the identical state championships at Greenwood, then chasing and ready on a scholarship supply as a walk-on at Arkansas, then receiving that scholarship however nonetheless chasing substantial enjoying time, it’s now reward time for Morgan.
The 222-pounder, who stands lower than 6-feet tall, leads the nation with 13 tackles per sport heading into Saturday’s Southwest Basic at Texas A&M. He’s the fourth-highest graded linebacker within the nation by Professional Soccer Focus.
Positive, he is enjoying with a bum left elbow. However the senior wasn’t coming off the sphere in a taut, suspenseful SEC West showdown with Ole Miss in Arkansas’ final sport on Oct. 17. Not together with his operating mate Bumper Pool already out with damage. And positively not after the Rebels took over at their 16-yard line trailing 26-21 with 3:46 remaining.
Arkansas already had 4 interceptions off quarterback Matt Corral at that time, however Morgan had photographs at two others and did not convey them in. When Corral stared down Elijah Moore and tried to ship the ball on a crossing route, Morgan was in place, and this time he capitalized.
Morgan’s interception and 23-yard return for a landing iced the 33-21 Arkansas victory. It additionally ended the Razorbacks’ 12-game residence dropping streak in SEC play and sparked an awards week worthy of an Oscar contender.
It additionally touched off unbridled pleasure within the football-loving Morgan household.
“I had about six women in the home and yeah, I attempted to convey down the roof,” Drew Morgan mentioned. “I imply, he was clutch. There was ice in his veins.
“It was like … you already dropped two [picks], so perhaps a 3rd time is the attraction, and by God it could not have come at a greater time. I am happy with him. He seized the second.”
Drew Morgan, now teaching in Warner, Okla., was at his home in Fort Smith watching the sport.
Matt Morgan was sitting in a cluster of followers together with his spouse, Grant’s spouse Sydnie, members of the Pool household and a few of Grant’s buddies when his son made the return that put a dagger within the Rebels.
“It is only a tremendous proud second, as you may think about,” Matt Morgan mentioned. “Each guardian waits for the second their children could make a dramatic influence within the sport. Definitely simply proud for him and the workforce and coaches. It was enjoyable.”
Morgan’s continuous chase to make performs just like the interception return has been stuffed with peaks and valleys. The majority of his enjoying time in 2017 and ’18 got here on particular groups. He performed extra as a redshirt junior in 2019, tying for fifth on the workforce with 39 tackles. His actual alternative hit in the course of the lengthy lead as much as this season, when he was voted as a defensive captain together with sort out Jonathan Marshall.
When Coach Sam Pittman not too long ago mentioned Morgan’s toughness is what he’d like an Arkansas soccer participant to embody, nicely, that hit residence.
“That is a giant honor for him to say that simply, as a result of I understand how laborious I labored for this,” Morgan mentioned. “I understand how laborious I have been in a position to push for issues that lots of people doubted me to do. Lots of people doubted me that I would not be an SEC linebacker.
“They mentioned once I obtained my shot I would not be capable to be right here and do the issues I did. So, I positively have, it isn’t a chip on my shoulder, it is a go surfing my shoulder I have been carrying. And I will hold it there.”
Morgan didn’t undergo contact work the week earlier than the Ole Miss sport, although he tried to trade a inexperienced (no-contact) jersey for a purple apply jersey every day.
“He is only a robust child,” Pittman mentioned. “He is a Morgan. His brother was the identical approach and doubtless his dad and mom. All people’s robust within the Morgan household.
“You noticed him holding that elbow on a play late within the fourth quarter and it did not cease him from choosing a cross and operating it again for a landing. He is a troublesome child. He’s Arkansas. That is what he’s.”
Drew Morgan performed with shoulder and collar bone points whereas having a giant season in 2015 for the final Razorbacks workforce to complete with a profitable SEC file.
“It is innate. That is who God made them to be,” Matt Morgan mentioned of his sons’ ardour for the sport. “I believe we as dad and mom, each myself and their mother [Annie Shaw] have actually simply needed extra for our children. We by no means allow them to form of relaxation on carrying out a few issues, however to only hold pushing them to maintain making an attempt and getting higher, and life is all about making progress. I believe it is simply a part of the DNA of the Morgans.”
Drew Morgan mentioned it was instilled in them that Morgans by no means give up.
“Grant has mentioned this earlier than it isn’t a chip on my shoulder, it is a log and I plan on retaining it there,” he added. “He is finished one-upped me there. I had a chip, however now I assume he is obtained a log. He is just a little little bit of a much bigger boy, so he can carry that log.”
Morgan realized behind a succession of standout linebackers, like Brooks Ellis, Dre Greenlaw and De’Jon Harris.
“We have had some nice gamers in entrance of Grant his complete time right here,” Matt Morgan mentioned. “Simply as a guardian, I’ve needed to counsel myself greater than I’ve needed to counsel him, since you simply see his productiveness on performs and also you suppose, ‘Man, if he might simply play in a full sport.’
“He’s a singular child. I am clearly biased, however he actually is extra mature than his age. Yeah, I’ve needed to have some conversations with him about simply hold grinding. … I’ve all the time lived by the adage: Do not buy your individual press. You have to hold grinding. He knew his time would come.”
Morgan unfold the accolades amongst his teammates after his enormous efficiency in opposition to the Rebels.
“All I do know as Razorbacks is we wish to play and we like to win, however we simply love soccer round right here,” he mentioned. “We’re robust guys and I am simply the common of all people round me. That is the factor. All people’s robust round right here.”
However no person within the SEC has had a efficiency like Morgan’s 19 tackles, 2 cross breakups, a sack and the interception return for a landing in opposition to Ole Miss. The acclaims got here in droves.
Morgan was named SEC co-defensive participant of the week and he gained the nationwide participant of the week honors given by the Bednarik Award and Nagurski Award. He is a robust candidate for the Burlsworth Trophy, named for ex-Razorback Brandon Burlsworth and given to the nation’s finest participant who started as a walk-on.
Morgan, a graduate pupil who’s pointed towards medical faculty after his soccer days, mentioned it hasn’t been an issue getting refocused on Texas A&M after his week of awards.
“I am dealing with it superb,” he mentioned. “I am not shocked that I used to be getting this as a result of I have been working tremendous laborious, however on the finish of the day I am right here for the wins and losses.
“I do not actually care about all that different stuff. I am a workforce participant. If I’ve zero tackles the remainder of the yr and we win each single sport, I promise you I will be re-tweeting and posting extra about it than what occurred this previous couple of weeks.”
And if he wants a reminder of what is helped him get so far, Morgan can simply look at his left arm and discover that power.
College of Arkansas linebacker Grant Morgan, proven in final season’s sport in opposition to Auburn, realized behind a succession of standouts like Brooks Ellis, Dre Greenlaw and De’Jon Harris.
(NWA Democrat-Gazette/Charlie Kaijo)