Morgan on fire in Miami
By Murray Gleffe
MIAMI – James Morgan has recently seen his college football career go in a different direction.
A former standout at Ashwaubenon High School, where Morgan threw for over 7,500 yards in his three years as starting quarterback, the 2015 graduate accepted a scholarship from Bowling Green University (BGU) and then head coach Dino Babers.
Morgan is now playing for Florida International University (FIU) in Miami.
“Coaching James was fun, frustrating and fulfilling,” said Ashwaubenon head coach Mark Jonas. “He could make every throw known to man from short to long. He learned how to take some steam off of the short balls eventually. In practice, you always could count on a wow throw daily. He frustrated you because he played at a different level than most players and he needed to scale his own game back a bit to help others succeed. It was fulfilling, though, because he strove for excellence. He was a driving force behind 7-on-7 teams, extra practice, leadership skills and fun. James was fun to be around, he was fun to yell at and he was fun to have as a leader. Him being at FIU now is bringing back many of those traits and skills we were accustomed to seeing. We hope that he gets a chance on Sundays to show all of that to the rest of the country.”
Morgan redshirted his freshman year at BGU to learn the system and get stronger.
The Falcons made it a bowl game and finished the year 10-4.
Going into 2016, he was in a battle with veteran James Knapke to win the starting nod as a first-year player.
New head coach Mike Jinks went with the veteran but after a rough start, turned to Morgan in week four of the season.
Morgan finished the season with over 2,000 yards passing and 16 touchdowns, including a three-game winning streak to close out the season.
Feeling good, Morgan came into his sophomore season with high expectations and was the starter from day one.
However, after a 1-6 start in which both sides of the ball weren’t producing, Jinks went in a different direction, and Morgan was relegated to a backup role.
At season’s end, with a degree in hand after three years, Morgan decided to try his luck elsewhere, so he moved further south, away from the pesky winters of the Midwest, to palm trees and a warm breeze in Miami at FIU.
“There is a certain atmosphere down here,” Morgan said. “It is a lot hotter than Wisconsin, but I love the campus. The heat has taken a while to get used to, especially during football season, but come winter, I’ll be excited about the weather.”
As a graduate transfer (degree in pre-law), Morgan was eligible to complete two years with the Golden Panthers and play immediately.
FIU has had very minimal success on the football field but is coming off its first winning season in seven years.
Coming from the Mid-American Conference, to an offense that suits him/coach in Conference USA, opened the door for Morgan to excel.
Not only is FIU currently in second place in the Conference USA East Division and already bowl eligible, but Morgan has settled into leading the Golden Panthers at the helm.
“I am really enjoying the season so far,” said Morgan. “It is great to play with these guys, and they bring 100 percent to practice every day. It is a strong group of leaders on our team, and we’re working on taking it one game at a time.”
Most recently, he threw for over 300 yards against Arkansas Pine Bluff and Middle Tennessee and had the opportunity to go up against the Miami Hurricanes.
Butch Davis, the current Golden Panthers coach, coached for the Hurricanes from 1995-2000, going 51-20 during his tenure.
Prior to coaching college, Davis won two Super Bowls as defensive coordinator with the Dallas Cowboys.
“I absolutely love playing for him,” Morgan added about Davis. “He always has great insight about the game every week and about life in general. He has been around the game forever. It was one of the main reasons I came to FIU. I have learned so much from him.”