Ryle High School junior quarterback Tanner Morgan is still 10 or 11 months away from picking a college and has no clear-cut favorite in his recruitment, but the University of Louisville has made a strong early impression with its pro-style offense and the coaching style of Bobby Petrino and offensive coordinator Garrick McGee.
“I think Coach McGee is an outstanding coach,” said Morgan, who received a U of L offer last month. “He’s definitely one of the best out there without a doubt. He knows what he’s talking about. I love their offense: pro-style, get under center, get in the shotgun sometimes, wing it around. It definitely suits my interests, and the history they’ve had in having successful quarterbacks and getting them to the next level is crazy. And I don’t see that success stopping anytime soon.”
Morgan played his first two seasons at Hazard High School, then transferred to Ryle midway through last school year after his mother got a job in Northern Kentucky, where Morgan is originally from.
Morgan completed 148 of 247 passes for 2,536 yards and 31 touchdowns with just six interceptions during his sophomore year at Hazard (10-3), which lost in the third round of the Class A playoffs.
Wake Forest was the first school to make Morgan an offer during the spring, followed by U of L and Cincinnati. Petrino, himself, made the offer for the Cards during a phone conversation on May 29.
“You talk about an awesome day,” Morgan said. “It can’t get any better than that. It was the last day of school, and a Louisville offer? That’s crazy. That’s stuff you dream of, going to games at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. It was really a dream come true. It’s a home-state powerhouse really. They’ve beaten Kentucky the last four seasons, and they’ve been very successful. They’re one of the best teams in college football.
“It was very humbling and very exciting.”
Morgan followed up with a trip to U of L’s camp two weekends ago.
That gave Morgan an opportunity to work firsthand with McGee, and he liked the coach’s emphasis on pro-style mechanics, including five- and seven-step drops. Being taught seven-step drops was “awesome,” Morgan said, because that is a NFL technique seldom introduced in college camps.
He’s also attended camps this summer at Wake Forest, Duke, Tennessee, Cincinnati, Michigan and Illinois, and the systems at U of L and Illinois strike him as definitely more “pro-style” than the others. That’s appealing for a player who tries to play like similarly sized NFL superstar is Drew Brees.
When Petrino made the offer to Morgan last month, the coach told him he believes the Cards’ offense is well-suited for his abilities.
“And I have to agree with that wholeheartedly,” Morgan said. “I do I think I would fit like a glove into that offense.”
Why does he view it as potentially a good fit?
“I’d say I’m more of a pocket passer,” Morgan said. “I love to get under center and take five-step drops and just wing it. I can run, too, if I have to, but I’m the type of quarterback who would rather pick you apart and throw it all over you.”
Morgan didn’t grow up a mega-fan of an in-state school – he probably rooted for Southern California more than anyone else – but he’s respected U of L and UK.
Morgan has been on the Wildcats’ radar since last year, and they watched him this spring, but UK hasn’t been in much contact lately and Morgan doesn’t plan to camp or visit there this summer.
He’s come to like the Cards more and more as he’s moved full bore into the recruiting process.
“You can’t say you don’t like how loud that stadium gets when you run out of the Cardinal helmet and onto the red turf,” Morgan said. “I can’t imagine how hyped the players get.”