Florida International U

This FIU ‘graybeard’ leads the Panthers, setting an example for youthful backup QBs

FIU coach Butch Davis discusses Christian Alexander’s Bahamas Bowl performance

The FIU Panthers had to use backup quarterback Christian Alexander in the Bahamas Bowl against the Toledo Rockets. The redshirt junior impressed Florida International coach Butch Davis.
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The FIU Panthers had to use backup quarterback Christian Alexander in the Bahamas Bowl against the Toledo Rockets. The redshirt junior impressed Florida International coach Butch Davis.

James Morgan’s beard is red … but it might as well be gray given the amount of experience the FIU quarterback will bring into the 2019 season.

Prior to FIU, Morgan spent three years at Bowling Green, playing in 18 games. The native of Green Bay, Wisconsin, arrived at FIU last summer and started 12 games for the Panthers, earning Conference USA Newcomer of the Year honors.

He missed FIU’s Bahamas Bowl game win in December because of an arm injury, but he’s healthy this spring and fully in control of the Panthers offense.

“James looks fantastic,” FIU offensive coordinator Rich Skrosky said. “Any time a player is hurt, the question is how you are going to rehab.

“He not only did his rehab, but he also took mental reps. He’s much more accurate as a passer this spring.”

That’s good news for the Panthers, considering Morgan was already considered accurate last season, completing 65.3 percent of his passes for 2,727 yards, 26 touchdowns and just seven interceptions.

Morgan, who got hurt when he was hit during the Marshall regular-season finale, said FIU trainers have done a superb job getting him back on the field.

“It was tough [missing the Bahamas Bowl],” Morgan said. “But I was happy for Christian [Alexander, his backup who led FIU to victory and has since left for Wagner as a graduate transfer]. I loved seeing him get that opportunity.”

If a backup QB is needed this year, the call will likely go to redshirt sophomore Kaylan Wiggins or redshirt freshman Caleb Lynum.

“I think Kaylan has an edge over Caleb, but a lot of that is because he has been here a year longer,” FIU offensive coordinator Rich Skrosky said.

“Caleb shows tremendous flashes at times. He has a very strong arm. He’s a very good athlete. Sometimes things go too fast for him — that’s what happens as a young guy.”

When asked about his backups, Morgan touched on similar themes — Wiggins with the edge in experience but Lynum possessing exciting potential.

“Both of them are great dudes,” Morgan said. “They have been studying hard. Kaylan has been in this offense for a [while]. He’s starting to figure out what he’s doing. His checks are down better. His reads — you can see his progression. He can make a lot of throws.

“Caleb, he’s a little fresher since he just got here last year. He’s learning as he’s going. He has a phenomenal arm to make all kinds of throws from different positions. You see him make crazy throws all the time.”

Morgan, who is on track to earn his Master’s degree by the spring of 2020, may not be that “crazy” in his throws, but he has been efficient. It helps that his roommate is guard Shane McGough, whose brother, Alex, was Morgan’s predecessor as FIU quarterback.

“Alex will crash in our room from time to time,” Morgan said. “Just getting his input from when he played here and now [in the NFL with the Jacksonville Jaguars] has been great. What Alex has done for the [FIU] program is incredible.

“Last scrimmage, Alex came, and he talked to me about a couple of plays. It’s beneficial because he’s been here before, and he’s now where I aspire to be [in the NFL].”

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