James Morgan grew up in Green Bay, Wisconsin, idolizing Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre. Now, he'll have the chance to follow in his childhood hero's footsteps and make a name for himself in the NFL.
Morgan began his career at Bowling Green State for three years. He then entered the transfer portal and made his way over to Florida International.
In two seasons as the quarterback of the Panthers, Morgan threw for 5,312 yards and 40 touchdowns. During that time, he also set the school record for most touchdown passes in a single season.
We were fortunate enough to sit down with Morgan and discuss his FIU career and preparation for the NFL Draft. Let’s get this interview started.
The Spun: You had a tremendous senior season with FIU and then shined during the East-West Shrine Bowl. Can you just describe how the past few months have been and how it feels to get to this point?
James Morgan: Definitely. The last couple months have been great. It's something that I've been really looking forward to for a long time and I tell other people it's a little bit strange that I’m looking forward to the pre-draft process and training. Really, it's just been exclusively football for probably one of the only times in my life. Obviously, I'm extremely thankful for my education and the fact that I was able to do some great things. Football gave me the opportunity to get a great education, but to be able to focus on this and have it as your professional career is something that's extremely exciting for me. So, right now I’m focusing on training and doing everything I can to give it my best, for all NFL teams and take advantage of every opportunity I get.
The Spun: I spoke to your teammate Napoleon Maxwell about the team's win against Miami this past season. How’d it feel to defeat one of the biggest programs in college football history?
JM: It felt great, man. I'm sure that Napoleon echoed this sentiment, but I just really loved it because it meant so much to the university. It was a great Miami team that we played, and the energy that we brought that night just meant so much because it was always like FIU was a little overshadowed by Miami. I know that a lot of our players grew up wanting to be Hurricanes and maybe weren't recruited there, so there's a lot of motivation for that. I know Coach Davis obviously had some motivation since he coached there. I think the coolest feeling about that was what it meant to everybody and the response that we got after that game from FIU fans all over the place on social media and on campus. It was absolutely awesome and a great win for our program.
The Spun: Which moment from your collegiate career will you always remember?
JM: Definitely that Miami game that we talked about earlier. That’s probably at the top of the list. But then also, my redshirt freshman year when I was at Bowling Green and we played Toledo. We ended up losing the game 42-35, but that game really stuck out to my memory because that was the point where I knew I could play college football. I had five touchdowns and three of them were to my best friend, Scotty Miller, who's on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers right now. Being able to throw it to him and ripping it felt really good. So, besides the Miami memory that would definitely be one of them.
The Spun: Let’s switch gears and talk about the transfer portal since it's a huge topic in college football. As someone who transferred from Bowling Green to FIU, how do you feel about the process and do you think we're going to get to a point where student-athletes that enter the portal will automatically be eligible for the upcoming season?
JM: That’s a great question. For me, it worked out well and I'm very thankful that I graduated and was able to transfer and retain eligibility right away. I do think that it's a valuable tool for people, and you start to see that kids in college don’t have to be stuck in a bad situation and can move somewhere that's more fitting for their strengths. I think that everybody's situation is unique in terms of what they've been through and maybe things that they expected that didn't go quite right. You have to find a balance for that if you're a college athlete, but I do think the fact that people are able to go to better situations is a good thing for the game.
The Spun: What was your initial reaction when you found out you were invited to the NFL Combine?
JM: Extremely excited. I got an email and it was something that I was hoping for, but I wasn't exactly sure if I would. I was excited to get the invitation and I can’t wait to go compete and show my stuff.
The Spun: As you know, people are talking about Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa leading up to the NFL Draft. What separates James Morgan from other quarterbacks in this class?
JM: The biggest thing that separates me is how much I love football and how much I am willing to put absolutely everything. I will put so much effort - as hard as I possibly can - and I'll go above and beyond whatever standards there are. That's something that I think all my coaches and teammates would reiterate. If you draft me, you’re getting a guy who is in love with the game, will give everything he's got to, who's a competitor and a leader of guys. So, that's something that I'm hoping to bring for scouts come the NFL Combine and entire draft process.The Spun: What would you say is one area of your game that’s a strength and an area you still need to improve?JM: I would say that my preparation and game readiness are two areas that I really pride myself on. I mentioned trying to work hard and having that be one of my best attributes. I think that really shows with my game film throughout my whole career. It’s just something where I'm going to do everything I can do be prepared come game time. It's such a great feeling to be able to see something that you recognized earlier in the week in film and scheme with the coach to see how your guys were going to beat it. To have those mental synapses, see that and react in a way that you practice over and over again to find an open receiver to score a touchdown is an absolutely fantastic feeling. That's probably one of the biggest things that I would do. I think besides that, I have a really big arm. I can make every throw on the field and I’m fearless to make every throw, but I’m cautious at the same time. Sometimes a better situation might be a checkdown rather than trying to force the ball. But I’m really not scared to make any throw on the field, and I know I can do that. I hope my accuracy and my anticipation also show up through my game film. As for areas that I want to work on, something that I worked on throughout the year after every practice is mobility. For me, I'm a pocket-passing quarterback and I always want to stay in the pocket and rip it. That being said, something that I'm always working on is just being able to move quickly. Obviously, you know edge rushers at the next level are going to be beasts of athletes, so you got to be able to avoid them quickly, stay on balance and throw from different platforms. That's something I'm always working on.
The Spun: You spoke about being fearless and not being afraid to make certain throws. I know you’re from Green Bay, so I have to ask you a two-part question. First, is it fair to say you have a Brett Favre mentality? And second, who are some of quarterbacks that you watched growing up and tried to replicate your game after?
JM: Yeah, I 100 percent think that would be fair to say. It's funny because when I was answering that question I was thinking about Brett Favre and I'm like ‘Yeah, that’s kind of how I want to play the game.’ He was definitely my idol growing up. My high school is two minutes away from Lambeau Field, so just being able to grow up with him in my backyard and see the throws that he would make in training camp and all that stuff was really what caused me to fall in love with the quarterback position and the game in general when I was a kid. But definitely Favre, and then obviously Rogers. The stuff that he's been able to do is just incredible and the physical ability he has is tremendous. Those two guys definitely made a big impact on me growing up.
The Spun: All right, I have to put you on the spot here. If you have to pick one quarterback, who would you take: Favre or Rodgers?
JM: I've been asked that a couple of times and it's just so hard because both of them are so good. I think any franchise would obviously love to have their type of caliber. I think both are Hall of Famers, no doubt about it. I lean towards Favre because when I was a kid that was my guy growing up, I absolutely loved him. But it’s hard to make a case against Aaron Rodgers, that's for sure. I think either one would be a great quarterback to have.
The Spun: I know your mentality going into the draft is that you want to start because that's the competitor in you. However, if you were to sit behind a veteran like Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees or Tom Brady, how would you adjust to that?
JM: I think the biggest thing for me that I want to tell scouts is that I will do my absolute best to help the team win. You got to know your role on the team and all that stuff, but I'm going to do everything I can. Like you said, I'm a competitor. I want to compete. I want to compete for a spot. That's my goal, but if I am behind a great veteran like that, I think to be able to learn under there tutelage and try to do everything that I can to help the team is something that I would excel at. It's something where I'm going to work as hard as I can to help them, learn from them and pick up things that they're doing. It might be a great situation for me, but like you said, I’m always going to try to compete and do the best I can at that.
Morgan will be one of 17 quarterbacks at the NFL Combine later this month. He’ll have the chance to boost his draft stock with a strong showing in Indianapolis.
Scouts were already impressed by Morgan’s showing in the East-West Shrine Bowl. The FIU signal-caller won the Pat Tillman Award, which recognizes the player who best exemplifies intelligence, sportsmanship and service at the event. As of right now, draft experts have Morgan going as early as the fourth round.
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