In 2000, University of Miami linebacker Dan Morgan became the first player in college history to win the Butkus Award (top linebacker), Nagurski Award (defensive player of the year) and Bednarik Award (top defensive player) in the same season.
On Monday, UM sophomore linebacker Shaquille Quarterman was named as a candidate for the Butkus. He already has been named as a Nagurski Award and Bednarik Award candidate.
Morgan was one of the most dominant defensive players I’ve ever covered, playing with astounding energy through never-ending injuries, and absolutely pulverizing the competition. Out of Coral Spring Taravella High, the 6-3, 230-pound Morgan had 139 tackles his junior season, despite a broken thumb for much of it, and set a Miami record for tackles in a career with 532. He was the 11th overall pick by the Carolina Panthers in the 2001 Draft and played for seven seasons.
Quarterman, listed as 6-1 and 240 pounds, is out of Orange Park Oakleaf High. He garnered several freshman All-American honors, starting all 13 games through aches and pains of his own, delivering a memorable season with 84 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, and 3.5 sacks.
“As long as we count on each other and never quit on each other,’’ Quarterman said Friday at the Atlantic Coast Conference Football Kickoff, “I don’t see how somebody can stop us.’’
Quarterman is one of the most mature, focused, pleasant and intelligent players I’ve covered -- and we have at least two more seasons to see him grow.
Can he end up the player Morgan was?
I wouldn’t doubt it.