A popular series from last draft cycle is returning yet again at Stampede Blue. Last offseason, I interviewed over 40 prospects that could eventually be fits for the Indianapolis Colts in the 2019 NFL Draft. As a result, we were able to find out a lot about two Colts who went on to eventually be drafted by the team in Marvell Tell III and Khari Willis. This year I hope to interview even more prospects so you all can get an inside look at these player’s accomplishments and mindsets going into this next draft.
Our next prospect is quarterback James Morgan from Florida International. We had a great conversation about his transfer from Bowling Green to FIU, his community service efforts throughout college, and what makes him a great leader.
6’4” 229 pounds
40 Time: 4.89 / Vertical: 29 inches / Broad: 112 inches / 3-Cone: 7.51 seconds
207-357 (58.0%) for 2,585 yards and 14 touchdowns with 5 interceptions.
(Played through notable ankle and tricep injuries throughout the year)
Fit with the Colts:
The Colts are likely set at quarterback for the 2020 season with Philip Rivers and Jacoby Brissett under contract. The main issue becomes what to do beyond this season as both players are set to hit free agency in 2021. Morgan may not be the future starter in Indianapolis but he is a high character guy with a big arm and worth developing. For a likely day three pick, you really can’t ask for much more. He could come in and learn behind a potential Hall of Fame quarterback in Philip Rivers for a year and then battle it out for the backup spot in 2021 behind whoever the Colts bring in that year.
Early-Mid Day 3
Who is this year's Gardner Minshew? One that evaluators point to as a possibility is FIU QB James Morgan. pic.twitter.com/mKL5izKEvA— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) February 29, 2020
FIU QB James Morgan caught my eye at the Shrine this year — and he's got some really impressive throws on tape from his days at Bowling Green, too! pic.twitter.com/FAFgYSGRrp— Kyle Crabbs (@GrindingTheTape) February 13, 2020
QB Spotlight WK4⬇️— QB Spotlight (@QBspotlight) September 25, 2019
*James Morgan: FIU
* I know not the start FIU wanted this season, but plenty of season left to get on a streak.
* Morgan healthy enough to gut it out last week & play, 29/41, 394yds passing,3tot tds,1int.
*Absolute dime here⬇️ don’t count out FIU just yet pic.twitter.com/iCZFLWx9gL
QB Spotlight WK6⬇️— QB Spotlight (@QBspotlight) October 9, 2019
*James Morgan (FIU)
*19/31,263yds passing,2tds in their W vs UMass. Huge conference game vs Charlotte this week
*NFL type throw, fit the ball between CB/S from opposite hash. Also, let’s give the O-line love, look at that pocket⬇️@EricCHenry_ pic.twitter.com/uOX42baixY
ZH: So you were great in high school and put up some great numbers. Despite that high level of play, you didn’t receiver much attention as a recruit. What was the process like for you that led you to choosing Bowling Green?
JM: There’s kind of like a negative stigma towards Wisconsin high school ball, not a lot of people give it credit. I suppose it is somewhat warranted because you can’t have Spring ball because it is so cold but I think there are a lot of really good athletes that end up being walk-ons at the University of Wisconsin or don’t get highly recruited and go on to have successful college careers. I felt confident in what I could do and I thought there would be some Power 5 interest in me so that gave me a bit of a chip on my shoulder. I ended up at Bowling Green because of Dino Babers and Sean Lewis were on the coaching staff and they are great coaches. Their style of offense I thought was very good for a guy who had a big arm when you look at their history with Jimmy Garoppolo and RGIII in that Baylor system so that’s the reason why I chose Bowling Green.
ZH: After Bowling Green, and this has become a very popular story recently, you did something unique and sent your highlights to schools looking for a new quarterback. You were able to land at FIU but how did all of that happen?
JM: Yeah it was kind of crazy. So I had a buddy who worked in a recruiting service and I purchased an excel spreadsheet from him with like every coaches’ email from Division 1 to Division 3 on there. So basically I found like 60 teams I wanted to go to and I sent out a mass email to like two coaches from each school saying like who I am and showing my highlights. The only person to respond to the whole email was Bryn Renner at FIU and that happened to be a fantastic situation for me. It’s just kind of crazy that this is how it all worked out.
ZH: That’s a crazy story mainly because to do something like that means you have to sort of swallow your pride to send those emails. How was difficult was it for you to put your pride aside to send those out?
JM: Yeah I mean for me, it’s not at all how I pictured the path going. I figured for me it would be high school then Bowling Green then the NFL and suddenly there was a dent in those plans. You definitely have to reevaluate and swallow some pride a little bit because I believed in myself extremely high and I was in a place where I didn’t even know where I was going so I would say it built some resiliency in me having to start from scratch again. You just gotta believe in yourself and know what you can do.
ZH: Yeah FIU is a great program and definitely a step up from Bowling Green. One thing I always want to know, especially with QB transfers, is how you were able to go from the new guy in the locker room to being the leader of the team?
JM: My whole mentality was to just earn respect and I think that is the first step you have to do as a leader. I don’t think it’s fair to come in and demand things from people when they don’t know you and you haven’t established yourself. My goal going in was to lead by example and work hard to get the guys to buy into the fact that I was going to give everything I got to help them win. One of the reasons I chose FIU was because of the atmosphere around the program and the feel that a culture was being built in place. It was a very tight-knit team and that made it very easy for me to come in and feel very welcomed.
ZH: I saw at FIU you were given awards in both 2018 and 2019 for your work in the community. How important is it for you to work in the community and is that something you’ll continue with in the NFL?
JM: Yes that is something I’d like to be known for. I think it is very important when you have a lot of eyes on you to give back to community and when you are in the role of being an NFL player, it is so important to give things back to the community you are in. That is something that I want to do and you look at guys like Russell Wilson and he’s always visiting children in hospitals and I think doing stuff like that would be very cool and rewarding to do.
ZH: You have established a bit of a name for yourself this draft cycle for your play at the Shrine Game and at the Combine. One thing that was continually noted was how you stayed after every practice at Shrine and every workout at the Combine to continue working and throwing. What was the mindset behind that?
JM: So first of all, staying after is something as a player that I’ve done throughout my entire career and I want to be known for. With that game it was a deal where you had limited time to learn that offense so any extra mental reps to get in as possible was gonna help you get better. Overall though, Shrine was a great experience for me and I think the most rewarding part of that for me was you know going in expecting this job interview but being caught off guard by the non football aspects of that game. Visiting the Shriners Hospital for Children and being around some truly inspirational kids really made that week a cool part of the process. Really enjoyed that week and had a fun time.
ZH: On film, you can see you have a big arm and have the ability to make big plays but how would you personally describe your game to someone who hasn’t seen you play yet?
JM: I agree with you. I have a big arm, I’m very confident to make every throw on the field and that is one of the biggest things that pops on my film. I can sit in the pocket and make some big throws and dice them up. At the same time an evolution that I’ve had as a college player is knowing when and where to take shots and know how to check the ball down. So I am that gunslinger but I’ve gotten better at finding the smart play and getting out to make the play that needs to be made.
ZH: You have improved a lot since your Freshman season with Bowling Green. As you work this offseason though, what are you really working on to make yourself ready for the NFL?
JM: I think a big thing that I can always improve on is mobility. That was one of the big focuses for the filmed Pro Day, just showing mobile throws and being on the move and such. I feel very confident with my ability to make a first down if I need to and to scramble but my forte is just sitting back there and dicing them up. Just being able to show NFL teams that I can move quickly, stay on balance, and avoid some freak athletes can only help me.
ZH: As you transition to the NFL, you may have to be a back-up or even practice squad guy early on. How comfortable would you be stepping in and still being that leader and community presence but doing that as a back-up or practice squad guy?
JM: One thing I’ve continually told teams as a goal of mine is to do everything in my power to help the team win in whatever capacity that may be. Everything I love doing from preparation to work ethic to leadership, I’d apply that to whatever role I have on the team. I’d love to compete because I am a competitor but there is obviously a lot of teams with veteran quarterbacks and if I am in the role that you described, then I’ll do whatever I can in whatever capacity I can to help the team win.
ZH: I’ve read a bit about the Colts talking to you a bit and meeting with you this offseason. Have you met with them and what do you feel about the fit in Indy?
JM: Well the cool thing about that was that Marcus Brady, the quarterbacks coach from the Colts, was the East-West Game Offensive Coordinator for my team so I got to spend a week with him and obviously their offense was a lot of fun to run from the limited reps I got and I like him a lot as a coach as well. In regards to their team, it would be fantastic to learn from Rivers and Brissett and learn how they approach the preparation of the game. Just learning everything from those guys. As an introduction to the NFL, sitting behind two guys who do it very well would be a awesome fit for me.
ZH: We have kind of talked about it throughout this interview but I would like to ask you straight up what my team is truly getting all around if they spend a draft pick on James Morgan?
JM: They are getting a guy who absolutely loves football and loves preparation and will work as hard as he can to, like we talked about, help a team win. I’m a leader and a competitor. I have a real big arm and I have those traits but like I keep saying, I’m going to do whatever it takes to help a team win and that’s the message that I want scouts, teams, and fans to know that I’m bringing.