By LELAND BARCLAY
SPECIAL TO THE ARKANSAS NEWS BUREAU
GREENWOOD — Drew Morgan used a football analogy to describe his oral commitment to the Arkansas Razorbacks in December when the team was without a head coach.
“I took a leap of faith and went for it on fourth-and-1,” Morgan said.
Wednesday, Morgan signed a national letter of intent to the play for the Razorbacks.
Arkansas first contacted Morgan in mid-November during the high school playoffs. Two days after then-Razorback assistant Tim Horton watched Morgan win his second consecutive MVP award in the state championship game on December 1, the Razorbacks offered Morgan a scholarship.
Morgan ran for 83 yards and two touchdowns, caught four passes for 87 yards and a touchdown, returned three kickoffs for 55 yards, had nine tackles on defense and an interception in Greenwood’s 51-44 win against Pine Bluff to win its third consecutive state title.
“Coach Horton said he was going to be at our state game,” Morgan said. “I played well, and they found more interest in me. That Sunday, they contacted me and wanted me to come up on Monday or Tuesday.”
Morgan visited that Monday morning and committed on the spot.
The new coaching staff led by head coach Bret Bielema continued to stay in contact with Morgan, especially offensive coordinator Jim Chaney and wide receivers coach Michael Smith. Morgan and Smith had a common bond from the beginning. Smith was a record-setting receiver from Kansas State. Morgan moved to Greenwood before his ninth-grade season from Kansas.
“I met him on my official visit a couple of weeks ago,” Morgan said. “We really kicked it off. We have a lot in common that I didn’t even know. Everything was positive, and he called this morning to congratulate me and tell me he’s looking forward to coaching me.”
The Razorbacks plan on Morgan playing an inside slot receiver position in Chaney’s offensive scheme very similar to his role for the Bulldogs.
“He told me that I’m going to do great stuff,” Morgan said. “He said I have the brain, I have the chemistry, I have the mechanics, that I can move around and that I don’t get tired. It’s what I’m used to doing. I’m very excited. I’ve been put in a very good position to be successful, and I’m going to take it.”
Morgan’s tireless work ethic is legendary in Greenwood where he would go from working out with the Bulldogs to CrossFit training. He rarely came off the field for the Bulldogs.
“The thing that makes the difference is his work ethic,” Greenwood head coach Rick Jones said. “He’s a training fanatic. He wants to get better. He’s hungry. He likes to train. A lot of guys, you have to force train. He’s not that way.”
Jones is also not surprised the Razorbacks are wanting to keep Morgan on offense.
“They’re getting a really versatile player, and it’s still to be determined if he’s best on the offensive or defensive side of the ball, but I think they’ll start him on the offensive side,” Jones said. “Coaches are always looking for a guy that can make plays, the guy that in the big moment can turn the tide. That’s the kind of player Drew is. He’s done it ever since he’s been here. I think it will translate well to the next level.”
This past season, Morgan rushed 86 times for 700 yards and 18 touchdowns and caught 85 passes for 1,209 yards and 15 touchdowns. On special teams, Morgan returned 11 kickoffs for 344 yards and a touchdown and returned one punt 67 yards for a touchdown. On defense, he intercepted three passes for 26 yards and was in on 74 tackles, including a team-high 18 for lost yardage.
In his career, he totalled 4,827 all-purpose yards and scored 70 touchdowns. He ran for 27 touchdowns, caught 39 touchdown passes, returned a kickoff for a touchdown, a punt for a touchdown, and two interceptions for touchdowns.