FIU senior quarterback James Morgan describes expectations for this season
If there is one athlete who is the face of FIU football in 2019, it’s senior quarterback James Morgan, who gets it done on the field and in the classroom.
A graduate transfer from Bowling Green, Morgan earned honors last year as Conference USA’s Newcomer of the Year.
Morgan, who is working on his Master’s degree, passed for 2,727 yards and a school record 26 touchdowns in 12 games. He was a key component in FIU (9-4) setting a program record for single-season wins.
A 6-4, 215-pounder from Green Bay, Wisconsin, Morgan — yes, he’s a Packers fan — completed 65.3 percent of his passes last season. He also took just eight sacks, which ranked third nationally.
Morgan, known for his trademark red hair and beard, fielded 10 questions from the Miami Herald recently, and here’s how it went:
▪ 1: What’s the most impressive non-football athletic feat you’ve ever pulled off?
“I won a state title in track and field as a senior in high school, running the first leg on the 4x400-meter relay team. I was the slowest leg, but it felt good because the knock on me at the time was that I was a pocket passer and not as athletic. That gave me a lot of motivation.”
▪ 2: Have you ever had a concussion? Does the potential of concussions and their long-range effects concern you?
“I’ve never had one, and I’m not concerned right now. But I’m glad they are doing a lot of studies, making sure our helmets are safe. I think we’re taking good steps in football to avoid concussions.”
▪ 3: What’s the biggest hit you ever took?
“I took a couple at Bowling Green. But in middle school, I took two on consecutive plays when we didn’t block the backside defensive end. I got smacked in the back.”
▪ 4: What was your biggest brush with fame?
“In the eighth grade, I played in a type of USA-Canada bowl game. Snoop Dogg’s son was playing, so Snoop Dogg was there, and he broke the team down.
“The next day, Snoop Dogg was arrested at the border.”
▪ 5: What do you do when a receiver drops a pass?
“Initially, there’s always a knee-jerk disappointment or anger. But the biggest thing for a quarterback is to have amnesia and move on to the next play. I’m still going to go to that receiver because I know how much work they put in at their jobs.”
▪ 6: Do you ever scream at a receiver after a drop?
“The only time I will yell is if the receiver’s effort is bad or if they mess up a play we’ve worked on a lot. I have high standards for our guys. I want them to all be locked in, and I know they echo that right back at me.”
▪ 7: What’s the No. 1 trait you want in your receiver — great hands, great speed, great route-running?
“I want great effort on every play. I will take a guy with less talent who works his butt off over a guy who is athletic but is lazy.”
▪ 8: What college win was your favorite?
“Beating Middle Tennessee [24-21] last year [Oct. 13]. I hit CJ [Worton] on a post, and Olin Cushion made the pick to seal the win.”
(FIU trailed 21-13 with less than 11 minutes left before the Panthers got a field goal, Morgan’s 23-yard strike over the middle to Worton and Cushion’s interception.)
▪ 9: What’s the biggest rivalry in college football?
“Michigan-Ohio State is one of them, but I don’t have enough perspective to really say. I will say Packers-Bears in the NFL!”
▪ 10: Who would you rank as the top three quarterbacks in NFL history?
“Tom Brady first, Joe Montana second, and then I’m undecided. I’m a huge Brett Favre fan, and I enjoy watching Aaron Rodgers. There are so many great quarterbacks …”