Arkansas senior linebacker Grant Morgan could have easily left at sunset at the end of the 2020 season.
Instead, he chose to get back in the saddle for the Razorbacks, one of nine players who took advantage of the extra year the NCAA gave to players affected by the covid-19 pandemic.
Morgan’s return was due in large part to Arkansas coach Sam Pittman, who Morgan says brought tenacity back to the program.
“Pittman, he brought football back the way Arkansas is supposed to be, the hardworking, the tough, the physical,” Morgan said. “You’re going to look at any good Arkansas team, like Darren McFadden was quick, but he would knock people down… Felix Jones, the same.
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“You’re going to watch Arkansas in its prime, you’re going to watch smash-mouth football and that’s what we want to be. We want to be a hard-hitting team. You want to be a team that is not afraid of anyone, bring them to us or we go.
“It’s a simple game. We just have to make it simple and run and hit again.”
Morgan praised the professionalism Pittman brought to his debut season as the head of the Razorbacks in 2020.
“It just goes to show you that an organization is headed by Pittman,” Morgan said. “It means a lot to us. All the older guys who came back and decided we can do it now. For other guys to join in, like [offensive lineman] Myron Cunningham and other guys, this is a really big step in the right direction.
Arkansas linebacker coach Michael Scherer said Morgan is the leader of the team, not just the linebackers.
“Grant makes my job very easy, especially this summer,” Scherer said. “I know if I say, ‘Hey, Grant, get the guys together and do this and this and that,’ it’s going to be done and done well. The same goes for all the old people I have in my room. They’re just great kids and great leaders, and everyone in the room respects him. “
In addition to Morgan, Arkansas sacking Bumper Pool linebackers Hayden Henry and Deon Edwards, who flirted with the transfer. Andrew Parker, Jackson Woodard and freshman Chris Paul are also in the rotation.
“I talked to [Edwards] all through that and the great thing with him was that he was just trying to find the best possibility for him, the best place to be for him and he ended up realizing that it was here, ”Morgan said. . “He was watched by other schools, he got offers and he wanted to go do it. His big thing is that he wants to play football for a while. He graduated and he was looking for something else. The thing for him is that he just wanted it to be the best possibility for him.
“He just wanted to be here. I think he … knows we can be great here.
For the first time in six years at Arkansas, Morgan believes the Razorbacks have depth in linebacking positions.
“I feel [the media’s] the job was pretty easy with linebackers over the past four years because all you were talking about was depth, ”Morgan said. “It was the truth. It really was. The depth was the hardest part for us.
“Now we’re at the point where we can say we can say we’re not afraid to play with these guys, not afraid to put on different linebackers now.”
Morgan played 662 defensive games and 74 special teams games last season; Pool 663 defensive snaps and 67 special team snaps; and Henry 198 defensive and 168 special teams snaps as the first reserve.
“I’ve talked about it several times: you have to be able to get out of the field. Whether it’s putting different linebackers or going off the field with third-down efficiency, ”Morgan said.
“The fact that we have a lot of linebackers right now and the way we’re playing at a high level now in every position in our linebacker pool, it really elevates the ability to play. Everyone is mobilizing. “