Green Bay is a football-crazed town with hundreds of local high school football players and fans. A city rich in football history has produced many great football players, but very, very few have earned the chance to play under the brightest lights: An NFL Field.
However, one former Ashwaubenon High School Football Star, Quarterback James Morgan, has a good chance to be the first Green Bay-area quarterback drafted by the NFL in 32 years.
Morgan, a three-year starter and the 2014 Player of the Year, was a coveted, three-star recruit. With numerous offers from Division I colleges, he chose Bowling Green and proceeded to start in seven games as a true freshman. He threw for 2082 yards and 16 touchdowns.
BIG Time Numbers at FIU
Following an injury prone sophomore season, Morgan transferred to Florida International University where he blossomed into a BIG star. He threw for 5,312 yards and 40 touchdowns in just two years.
Following his success at FIU, he was invited to play in the East-West Shrine Bowl in St Petersburg FL where he really began to turn some heads. The East-West Shrine Bowl is a college football All-Star game for graduating seniors. All Star Greats such as Brett Favre, Gale Sayers, and Pat Tillman also played in this game in years past.
With the bright lights on in St Petersburg, Morgan threw for 116 yards and one touchdown, and earned the Pat Tillman Award named after former Arizona State and Arizona Cardinals Football player Pat Tillman who walked away from a sterling NFL career after the 911 terrorist attacks to fight for his country.
Tillman enlisted and served multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, but was killed during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2004. The Pat Tillman Award is presented to a player who best exemplifies character, intelligence, sportsmanship and service. The award is about a student-athlete’s achievements and conduct, both on and off the field.
Morgan then turned heads at the NFL Scouting Combine on Thursday, February 27. On the Move the Sticks Podcast – hosted by lead NFL Network Draft writers Daniel Jeramiah, Bucky Brooks and Lance Zierlien – all the analysts were impressed with Morgan’s performance at The Combine.
“James Morgan has a rocket launcher; he can really throw it,” Zierlien said “When it comes to arm talent, he’s up there with the top guys; he was really throwing some nice shots with good ball placement and timing. As a back of the draft guy, he really helped himself.”
For people close to him, his success comes as no surprise.
Morgan’s high school coach at Ashwaubenon, Mark Jonas, attributed much of James’ success to his work ethic and his desire to lead. “I think what really set James apart from every other player besides his arm strength was his preparation off the field,” he said. “I used to have teachers emailing me complaining that he would watch films on his phone or laptop during class instead of taking notes, but I couldn’t be mad because he was an A student. The only person who might have watched more game film was me.”
Strong Leader, Too
Jonas went on to say, “James has always been a great leader and guys followed him. In high school he would get guys of all ages to come to the gym in the morning to run routes and throw almost every morning,” he said. “He was big into reading about leadership and because of that he helped start Ashwaubenon’s leadership program.”
According to Jonas, Morgan has been turning heads on the football field since middle school, “He wasn’t originally in our school district but I kept hearing from youth parents about this middle schooler who was interested in going to a different school that could absolutely fling it,” he fondly remembered. “He elected to come to Ashwaubenon and because we were one of the first teams in the area to run a spread offense. He completely changed the way our high school had traditionally played and we had two great quarterbacks before him. I think that really just shows how talented he was.”
Morgan has all the NFL potential to leave the shadows of Lambeau Field – potentially even play for the Green and Gold – just miles from where his journey all began. The NFL Draft might be in Las Vegas April 23-25.
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