When it comes to impressive center prospects in Louisiana, there are not many better than Sam Houston's Zachary Morgan.
The 6-foot-2, 300-pound Morgan is solidly built with huge, strong hands. He boasts a 315-pound bench, but even more impressive is the fact that he also boasts a 4.0 GPA.
He was in Baton Rouge on Saturday for the Rivals.com Five-Star Academy at LSU. He was one of the more impressive players at the event, which drew more than 100 athletes for Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and even Texas.
One of the prime draws for The best part of the Five-Star Academy is the chance to hear former high school coach Joe Hornback talk about the recruiting process. Hornback, a former college player as well, walks prospects and their parents through the recruiting process with entertaining anecdotes and easy to digest to-do lists.
"I learned a lot of things about the recruiting process," Morgan said. "Like that gratitude is a big factor. I had no idea that coaches couldn't talk to us (in person during spring evaluation period). I didn't know about the phone calls. But the biggest thing I learned was the gratitude. I've always made it a point to say thank you, but I didn't understand just how much it meant to them."
Sam Houston coach Russ Sutherland has been singing Morgan's praises even before his junior year. And for good reason.
"I'm a really good pass blocker," Morgan said when asked to critique his game. "I didn't give up a sack last year. I'm pretty dominant down-blocking and I like to down-field block. I get up from a pancake block and go block somebody else."
Leadership, both in the classroom and on the field, is another great facet of Morgan's game.
"I try to egg on my teammates, keep pushing," Morgan said. "We're almost there, just 10 yards. We've got to get that touchdown to get ahead."
Morgan has heard feedback from a few college programs already.
"I play guard in high school, but coach McFarland at Iowa State has said they would like me at center. So did John Tice from West Point Army. I'm getting a lot of mail from North Carolina, Purdue, Vanderbilt, getting stuff from LSU. During the season I was invited to a bunch of Houston games. I've talked to McNeese.
At a Nike Combine at East Jefferson in Metairie in February, Morgan posted a solid 73.89 SPARQ rating. His top event: the power ball throw. Morgan had an impressive toss of 40 feet, 4 inches. He said he sees room for improvement in other measurables.
"I want to get my vertical jump up and flexibility," Morgan said. "I want to be able to be able to bend over and put my hands flat on the ground. I've been working on it. I want to bring down my 40. I want to work on keeping going 100 percent straight through the play. I want full speed straight through it."
Sam Houston loses a number of starters, but Morgan is optimistic.
"We're going to lack the size so we're going to have to make up for it with speed. We have a lot more players going both ways - I'll be playing some defensive tackle. I think we'll be pretty good though."