Tanner Morgan, a 6-foot-2, 204-pound quarterback from Union (KY) Ryle, switched his commitment from Western Michigan to Minnesota to follow head coach P.J. Fleck. Morgan graduated early to enroll in Minnesota and will participate in spring practice with the Gophers.
Morgan helped lead Raiders to a 12-1 mark, losing to Scott County 42-40 in the Class 6A quarterfinals. He was named to the Louisville Courier-Journal's third All-State Football Team. Morgan finished his career as one of only 10 Kentucky passers to reach 10,000 career yards, and he became the 21st player in state history with 100 career touchdowns and the second who graduated from a Northern Kentucky school.
Morgan completed 179 of 276 passes for 2747 yards with 27 touchdowns and eight interceptions as a senior. He rushed 58 times for 320 yards and five touchdowns and doubled as a punter for the team.
Morgan was a four-year starter at quarterback, the last two years at Ryle after transferring from 1A Hazard.
Gopher Hole caught up with him to learn the latest on his decision.
Gopher Hole: You visited Minnesota with your parents. What was that like?
Tanner Morgan: We came up Friday for the drive and started moving in on Saturday and toured around. I enrolled on Friday and started moving in things on the weekend. Our parents left early this morning.
Gopher Hole: What was their reaction to the Twin Cities?
Tanner Morgan: They loved Minneapolis. It was a beautiful city. It was kind of breathtaking at first, honestly. They loved the campus, the facilities and everything. They were shocked and amazed by everything.
Gopher Hole: Had you ever been to Minnesota before?
Tanner Morgan: No. This was actually my first time.
Gopher Hole: Obviously, you had committed to Western Michigan under Coach Fleck. To be honest, not a lot of people would have the chutzpah to basically change your whole life to follow Coach Fleck. What does it say about Coach Fleck that he could convince you to come with him?
Tanner Morgan: Obviously, I think it shows the connection that he has with his players and his recruits who are committed to him. Very genuine and obviously got a connection where nine of us ended up flipping in two days of how bad people want to play for Coach Fleck and how bought into we are into his culture to the "Row the Boat" culture. We just totally bought in and I couldn't pass up the opportunity to play for Coach Fleck.
Gopher Hole: You were one of the first ones to switch from Western Michigan to Minnesota. Obviously, you have eight other kids who have done that. Does that make it easier, knowing that the guys you had already gotten to know and were looking forward to being teammates with in Kalamazoo, are going to be with you at Minnesota?
Tanner Morgan: I think that it makes it a little bit easier because there is obviously some of the old guys. Some guys were hurt because they didn't have the opportunity to come, but none of them have lashed out to us personally. I can imagine that they have some hurt feelings, but adding eight other guys and I already had close relationships with all of them, is really awesome, because like you said, I was looking forward to playing with them already and have great relationship with them, so it is awesome that we can still play together and get on a bigger stage with the same culture and same guys.
Gopher Hole: Who are you rooming with?
Tanner Morgan: Right now, I am rooming with John Mack, Connor Mohs and Calvin Swenson. It was kind of a crazy thing. We got lucky and we were able get rooms in the radius and rooms were open and I kind of got thrown in there.
Gopher Hole: What all did you get a chance to see and do this past weekend with your parents in town?
Tanner Morgan: We went with our parents to the Mall of America. Obviously, we went into TCF, toured all the facilities plus got around campus a little bit, the bookstore and drove around the city a little bit.
Gopher Hole: What do you know about their quarterback situation at Minnesota?
Tanner Morgan: I don't know a whole lot. We had our first meeting today. It is a great group of guys and I am looking forward to playing with them.
Gopher Hole: You were planning on doing this at Western Michigan as well, but how much of an advantage does it give you graduating early, enrolling in school in January and being able to participate in spring practice? How much do you think that is going to help you as a freshman?
Tanner Morgan: I think that it is going to help a lot, definitely with you learning the offense and all that stuff. Strength and conditioning-wise is just huge because it is whole other semester that I won't have had otherwise. Yes, this is actually huge and I am looking forward to getting started.
Gopher Hole: Was that something that you had always thought about doing, graduating early?
Tanner Morgan: Yes, as soon as I started getting recruited my sophomore year and offers came in. My dad and I talked about it and that something that we were always interested in.
Gopher Hole: Your high school coach had a lot great things to say about you and he has coached several Division I quarterbacks. It seems like you were very close.
Tanner Morgan: Yes. I definitely was. I was close to really all of them, especially Coach Engler, the head coach. We had a great relationship. We would talk about anything and everything about the team. I have a great relationship with him and a lot of respect for him. He has helped me out a whole lot, obviously on the field and decisions along the way. We just had a great amount of respect for each other.
Gopher Hole: I don't know if you have talked to the coaches much about the offense, but is it going to be similar to what they did at Western Michigan?
Tanner Morgan: Yes. I would imagine so.
Gopher Hole: How do you feel that you that you fit in that type of system?
Tanner Morgan: I think that I definitely in. I was kind of a smart guy in high school and did a lot of RPO's and stuff like that. I can make all the throws. I am athletic enough to move around a little, so I definitely fit in the offense pretty well.
Gopher Hole: What do you see as your strengths as a quarterback?
Tanner Morgan: I think, first and foremost, I am a very solid leader. Getting on the same page as the play caller, utilizing what needs to be done, I think that I have a pretty strong arm. Pretty good mechanics. I think that I am mechanically sound. I can make all the throws on the football field. Accuracy. Touch. I think that I can create pretty well as well as outside the pocket.
Gopher Hole: What are the expectations for you as a freshman? Have you talked to the coaches about what is going to happen with you as a freshman?
Tanner Morgan: No. We haven't talked about anything like that. I am just going to come in and grind.
Gopher Hole: It has to be a little bit nice that the starting quarterback has graduated, so it is going to be an open competition. Is that something that you are looking forward to?
Tanner Morgan: Yes. Definitely, I am looking forward to competing with all the guys and learning from everybody as well. Growing together and competing.