Christian Morgan (photo by the author)
The Florida State Seminoles added a big-time tight end prospect on Tuesday who will bring tremendous versatility to Jimbo Fisher's offense.
PLANO, TX -- In an emotional, but ultimately jubilant commitment ceremony at Gleneagles Country Club, surrounded by friends, family, and current and former coaches, 2013 Plano (TX) Prestonwood Christian tight end Christian Morgan announced his commitment to Florida State, choosing the Seminoles over a final four that also included, Arkansas, Baylor, and Ole Miss.
Morgan's voice cracked with emotion at times as he read a prepared statement:
"I chose a place where I can succeed spiritually and personally, as well as athletically and where I know I will be surrounded by people who can help me do that. This last week, I talked to everyone close to me and I knew where I wanted to be.
It was truly a blessing to be recruited by everyone of these schools. I have very special relationships with each one of these coaching staffs and I truly believe that I could not have gone wrong with any of these last four schools. I will always follow these programs and will always cheer for them and care about the coaching staffs as people.
Today, I got to make four phone calls. Three of them were the hardest that I've ever had to make. One phone call was pretty awesome. I got to tell one coach out of all these guys that I was going to play for him. That being said, I'm really excited to announce that I'm going to be a Florida State Seminole."
Following the announcement, SB Nation caught up with Morgan, his head coach, and Texas commit Jake Raulerson, who has been friends with Morgan for several years, in addition to going head-to-head with Morgan in contests underneath the Friday night lights the last two seasons.
For Morgan, a recent visit to the Florida State campus in Tallahassee helped sell him on the Seminole program.
"It was great," he said of the visit. "I got to spend a lot of time with the coaches. I spent a good three days down there, so I got a good feel for the campus and got to see where I would be living, hang out with the coaches, the players, get a true feel for the town as well.
Prior to the trip, Morgan almost hoped that he wouldn't like it so much in Florida.
"Honestly, I didn't want to like it going in. I wanted to have an easy decision, as far as not including them and I got there and I knew I had to be a part of something like that," said the 6-5, 255-pounder. "It's just an incredible opportunity."
It was a decision that Morgan made before he got back home to Texas.
"It's funny, because I got done talking with the coaches and I was like, 'I don't know,' and on the way back to the airport I decided that I wanted to play at Florida State."
Still, Morgan decided to wait to set up his announcement ceremony and make sure he was making the right decision.
"I just wanted to make sure that I was still comfortable with it and not making a rash decision based off of a last trip. I got to talk with everyone who was close to me and got to set up something like this. It's a great opportunity and I'm excited to be a Seminole."
As with any such decision, there were multiple factors involved, but two things stood out above all others with the Seminoles.
"Probably to me, it was just the tradition," Morgan revealed. "You have a chance to win a national championship every single year -- that's a different level. It's just another step up and I know they're going to push me to be the best that I can be."
His fit in Jimbo Fisher's pro-style offense that utilizes multiple tight ends in an era that is increasingly seeing predominantly spread offenses also played a major role.
"That was huge," he said. "That was one of the main things is that even though they have Nick O'Leary and they're getting Christo [Kourtzidis] in 2012, I had the opportunity to come in and be the true wide that they've been lacking. I know they have Dan Hicks right now and he's a great player, but I have the opportunity to come in and play the position that I want to play and that's with my hand on the ground playing a pro-style tight end."
But the PCA tight end almost didn't make it to Tallahassee for that important visit. Following a trip to Fayetteville to visit Arkansas back in the spring, Morgan nearly committed.
"When I went there I came back and thought that I would be a Razorback. I loved everything about it. I have a great relationship with Bobby Petrino -- that was probably the toughest phone call was talking to him. He said he was still going to recruit me and I came back and everything crazy went down and everything happened. It was too much of a risk to mess with that. I know that Jimbo Fisher is going to be there and that the staff is pretty solid and pretty family oriented there.
I asked Morgan how much the interim label given to new head coach John L. Smith impacted his decision to go a different direction than Arkansas.
"Yeah, for sure. That was my mentality. Anyone you want to hire, I didn't care who they got, but the interim thing. I wanted to know that when I signed my letter there would be someone who would be there. It's a hard situation and the players there are going to make the best of it and they're going to be very successful, it's just a hard situation."
After playing offensive tackle his first two seasons and tight end, wide receiver and defensive end as a junior, Morgan believes that those experiences have helped him tremendously.
"I think my biggest skill is my versatility as a player. I've had to do everything for my team and so I think being able to do all that stuff has really helped me as far as being able to understand the game from multiple positions and understand what I'm doing from multiple spots on the field."
Prestonwood Christian head coach Chris Cunningham believes that the receiving experience especially will help him in college.
"I think one thing you learn out there is to get a concept of space and how to use that," said Cunningham. "When you have that type of feel and you can create that separation and use that space around you. I think Christian has done that very well. He's worked against true DBs, not just linebackers out there and I think that will play into the different type of matchups that he's going to see defenses bring to try to stop him over the next few years."
In terms of a wider perspective on Morgan as a player and person, Cunningham said that his tight end's selflessness will hold him in good stead at Florida State.
"He's a kid that has brought so much to our program, not only as an athlete -- he's a two-way starter for us at tight end and defensive end, he's one of the leaders on our team -- the remarkable thing about it is that he's been in that role as a leader since he was a freshman. Like I said, he's always stepped up and down the things that we've needed him to do and he always seems to make the plays when they need to be made. So there's so much to be said about what he did as an offensive lineman and what he's done to step in as a tight end as well."
Cunningham has seen Morgan's versatility first-hand and he's a big believer as a result.
"I think he can bring a legitimate threat from a standpoint of finding mismatches and being able to use him in a lot of different ways and really being able to base an offense around a true tight end," said Cunningham. "Today, there are so many offenses that have kind of taken that position and morphed it into more of a receiver-type of thing and no longer that guy who is kind of a jack-of-all-trades and I think Christian can be a master of all those things -- a phenomenal blocker and a receiver with the speed to gain an advantage on linebackers. He's also a tremendous route-runner. He will give quarterbacks a huge target as well and he's got phenomenal hands. I think he's going to be really consistent as far as being a possession-type of guy."
Cunningham predicts big things for Morgan in Tallahassee due to his strong fit on the Jimbo Fisher offense.
"I think based on the system that they run and the way they've talked about using him, I would expect for him to become everything that everyone sees him becoming as a tight end," said the PCA head man. "I really think he can become a big-time player on that level at that position and, in fact, because he is a bigger type of player, I think he can be your prototype tight end and be everything they need him to be as an edge blocker, but also be a very effective receiver for them as well."
Morgan is also set to do some recruiting for Florida State in the near future, as he's going to work on teammate Mike Mitchell, an extremely athletic linebacker/defensive end prospect who is still wide open in the recruiting process.
"I want him to go to Florida State. I know he's visiting. He came down with me to Baylor a couple weeks ago. I want him to be a Seminole, so I'm going to try my butt off to get him there."
Based on Morgan's friendly personality and obvious charisma, the Seminole coaches could end up with some good news from another Prestonwood Christian star before NSD 2013 rolls around.