John Konecki saw all this happening for Crete (Ill.) Monee linebacker Nyles Morgan two seasons ago.
Morgan is ranked by the 247Composite as the nation's No. 4 ILB and No. 52 prospect overall.
The moment the Warriors head coach realized Morgan was going to be a bonafide blue-chipper was clear as day.
“It was the end of a playoff game against Bloomington two years ago where Nyles caused a fumble on the first series and it was ruled an incomplete pass,” Konecki began. “So they came back out and ran another play and Nyles ran it down and caused a fumble on the very next play. He scooped and scored on both of those plays and it set the tone in that game. One of the very most impressive things I’ve seen.”
Morgan has been impressing ever since.
Now one of the top linebackers in the country in the class-of-2014, Morgan is holding scholarship offers from the likes of Arizona State, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Ole Miss, UCLA, Vanderbilt and Wisconsin. He helped lead Crete (Ill.) Monee to a state championship this past fall, earning 247Sports First Team All-America Honors.
“Being a national recruit is amazing,” Morgan said. He is ranked by the 247Composite as the nation’s No. 4 inside linebacker and No. 52 prospect overall. “Not many kids ever get that chance. I’m really grateful for that.”
Appreciating All Gifts
Before he was a touted linebacker recruit, Morgan knew he was blessed. Living under a good roof with good parents, having good friends and attending a good school were all things he quickly learned should not be taken for granted.
His father Thomas Morgan is there to always remind him.
Michigan State, Notre Dame and Vanderbilt are a few of the schools to impress Morgan early in the process.
For the last three years, Morgan and his father have been going to area shelters to help folks in need.
“We go in and find out what they want,” the elder Morgan said. “If it’s mopping floors, making beds, preparing dishes for kids and families, that’s what we do. We go in at least a couple times a year because I want him to get the idea that not everyone is as lucky or fortunate. No matter how big you get, these are humble beginnings and you have to give back and don’t lose sight of the task at hand. Give back and be humble.”
Seeing kids his own age at the shelters hit home for Morgan.
“He took a different look at it,” Thomas said. “That’s been an eye-opener for him.”
“It’s heartbreaking,” Nyles said. “It opens your eyes up to the real world. Going down to those shelters and seeing people struggling, it’s made me more humble and grateful. When you go there you see a new story, a new life. It kind of makes you sad but it also makes you grateful for the fact that you do have all this going for you and you shouldn’t waste it.”
Morgan is attacking his destiny.
A 3.3 student according to Konecki, Morgan takes all honors and A.P. courses. He plans on majoring in engineering at whatever school he chooses.
“I might build a shelter,” he said. “I might build a building that helps people like this.”
Making It Happen On The Field
Morgan emerged as a sophomore to watch, registering 102 tackles, four sacks and two forced fumbles. Illinois and Notre Dame were the first to offer last May.
Morgan kept working.
Vanderbilt offered in late July.
Morgan kept studying film.
Things took off in September. Now the quarterback of the defense, Morgan ratcheted it up heading into the season and finished the fall with 118 tackles, four sacks, two forced fumbles and two interceptions. If his nose wasn’t buried in a school book, he usually had a clicker in hand watching tape of a past game of future opponent.
“He is academics and football around the clock,” Thomas said. He played linebacker at Western Illinois and now works as a school administrator.
“He is always studying film, even in the offseason, even now. He looks back at film. He said dad I want to go look at a game I played in November. He looks at different defenses. He’s a student of the game. Wants to know defenses different colleges play. He looks at everything.”
Morgan isn’t just a see ball get ball high school linebacker.
“He’s the guy in charge of making sure everyone is in the right spot,” Konecki said. “It’s been a lot of fun to watch him grow and mature in that position. The biggest difference from him as a player from last year to this year is he became much more cerebral in his game.”
Morgan also packed on 13 pounds of muscle, playing at 228 pounds as a junior.
“I put most of my weight in my upper body and legs,” Morgan said. “I still feel like I’m playing at 215 pounds.”
Taking The Recruiting Process Slow
Morgan doesn’t think he’ll make any college decisions anytime soon. More offers are certainly on the way and he’d like to take several more visits.
“One of the things that is really important for us is the college has to be similar to home in some regard,” Thomas said. “We know he’ll be away but we want him to have the upmost comfort in his choice. Sometimes that requires taking your time and listening to what the players and coaches are saying about that university. Not every university matches every kid.”
“I’m looking for academics number one,” Nyles said. “I’m looking for a place where their football program is on the rise or already there in the college world. Also, I’m looking for a place where they have good hospitality.”
Morgan has been able to make a few visits early in the recruiting process.
“We’ve gone to Notre Dame a couple times,” Thomas said. “We like them. We like Michigan State. We like Michigan but we don’t know how he feels about it. I got the chance to go to Vanderbilt and Vanderbilt is a big one on his list as well. He talks about and wants to go out to USC. We’re going to try and get down to the SEC and pop into Vanderbilt one more time and go see Florida, Florida State and I think Ole Miss.”
“I want to go see Florida, Oklahoma, Ole Miss and probably two more,” Nyles added. “I would say Michigan State, Vanderbilt and Ole Miss are the ones digging me right now and Notre Dame and also Florida.”