High School Sports

Position move pays off for Fitzgerald, Morgan

When Fitzgerald head coach Jason Strickland started thinking of who would be the starting quarterback for the Purple Hurricane in 2014, several names came to mind.

The only real quarterbacks he had on the roster were young and were not quite going to be ready to take over the reins of a football power like Fitzgerald. But after talking to his coaches, one name kept coming up.

Gerald Morgan.

“Gerald is such a great athlete, and at 6-2 and 190 pounds he is a big physical kid,” said Strickland, whose team will host undefeated Greater Atlanta Christian in a GHSA Class AA semifinal game Friday. “The problem is he was already a two-time all–region player at defensive back, and if he was going to be our quarterback, that would limit his time playing defense.

“It was a difficult decision, but we figured we had to talk to him about making the change."

Morgan remembers that first talk about the position change.

“He said he needed me to play quarterback this year, and when he said that, I knew that I really didn’t want to do it,” Morgan said. “But after he talked to me a little bit more, I realized that it was a move that would help the team, and that was really the most important thing.”

To make matters even worse, Morgan was injured during track season and had to have had surgery, which caused him to miss all of spring football practice.

“We really couldn’t do much with him until August, and we didn’t know how he would handle the move, but give credit to Gerald,” Strickland said. “He has worked hard to become a good quarterback, and without a doubt, there is no way we are in this position without him playing that position. At this point, I consider moving him to quarterback the best decision of my coaching career.”

Morgan has rushed for 2,150 yards and 26 touchdowns and has carried the ball 278 times. In all of those carries, he has fumbled only once. He also has thrown for 1,246 yards and 15 touchdowns.

“If you asked me now if I was a quarterback or a defensive back, I would say I was a quarterback,” said Morgan, who has signed with West Georgia as a defensive back. “I feel like I have improved every game, especially with all the reads I have to make. The reason I love playing defense so much is I really like the contact, but sometimes when I am running the ball, I just try to run people over.

“I have learned to love playing quarterback, and hopefully Friday night won’t be my last game playing the position.”