RojoBreakdown: Can Morgan buck frosh trend
It should be noted that several receivers have had solid success as redshirt freshman - Nate Swift led the team in catches (45) and yards (641) in 2005, Kenny Bell had 32 receptions and 461 yards in 2012 and Westerkamp hauled in 20 passes for 283 yards in 2013.
But unlike those players, Morgan won't have the benefit of a year on the sidelines to get acclimated to the college game. He was unlikely to redshirt anyway, but Pierson-El's injury all but assures he'll be pushed into service. Can Morgan be the freshman to finally supply some production?
Luckily for Nebraska, Morgan seems more developed than most rookie receivers Nebraska has had. Consider the following quotes from coaches and teammates:
Head coach Mike Riley: "Stanley is a mature, strong and an unfazed guy on where he is right now. For a young guy, he has fit in learning wise, which usually hampers most of (the freshmen). He appears beyond his years, and he is already very good physically and a playmaker. This was not a surprise to the team tonight (Aug. 15 scrimmage). He has been doing this."
Receivers coach Keith Williams: "He's not afraid to make a play. Sometimes young guys are afraid to go outside of the box to make a play, if the ball isn't perfectly thrown or just right in their lap. Sometimes they're a little hesitant reaching outside their comfort level and trying to make a play. He's not that way. He's comfortable in trying to make a play when he gets that opportunity."
Reilly: "Usually freshmen coming in are a little hesitant, but not Stan. He's a different guy, and I can definitely see him helping us out this fall. He's not a big talker, but you can tell he's very confident. I'm excited to see how he does throughout this camp."
Those words are no doubt encouraging, but it's still tough to lump such high expectations on such a young player. And make no mistake, no one is realistically expecting Morgan to immediately step in and replace Pierson-El's production. Westerkamp and Reilly will see more targets in Pierson-El's absence, and don't be surprised if offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf relies more heavily on the ground game with one of his top receivers out.
And Morgan won't have Pierson-El's job all to himself. He'll likely rotate with Moore and Turner and won't be counted on to prop up NU's offense alone.
But ready or not, Morgan's role just expanded, and if everything goes well, he could carve himself a playing time niche by the time Pierson-El returns. True freshmen haven't produced much at Nebraska over the past decade and simply expecting Morgan to break the trend isn't fair. But he's a talented kid and he's got a shot.
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