By: Connor Hanson – Staff Writer
From Illinois to Ohio and now Oregon, Dayton redshirt junior offensive lineman Zac Morgan will put another stamp on his football career.
Morgan played football, wrestled and ran track at Providence Catholic High School in New Lenox, Illinois, where he garnered attention from schools all over for his athletic abilities.
“I had scholarships to a few FCS schools and walk-on opportunities at some big time schools,” Morgan said in an interview with Flyer News. But, regardless of those opportunities, he chose to play football at the University of Dayton.
“I choose to go to UD because when I came on a visit it just felt right to me. I fell in love with the campus and the people, and it will always go down as one of the greatest choices I ever make,” Morgan said.
The 6-foot-7, 280-pound left tackle announced recently that he will transfer to the University of Oregon after graduating from UD this spring.
Morgan isn’t the only one who is happy with his decision to go to UD for the first four years of his college career.
“We liked his size, he had decent feet and we just thought he would fit here, both personally and academically, which is important to us—not just the type of athlete he is, but the type of person he is, as well,” Dayton head coach Rick Chamberlin said.
With his decision in hand, Morgan headed off to Dayton where he earned playing time his sophomore year and started both his junior and senior years at tackle. During his tenure, he received multiple accolades for his work.
He was named to the Pioneer Football League (PFL) honor roll three times and was also twice named Second Team Academic All-PFL. For his contributions on the field, he earned the team’s Stan Kurdziel Oustanding Lineman Award the past two seasons and was named First Team All-PFL last year.
Chamberlin saw a correlation between his on and off the field accolades.
“To succeed in the classroom, you have to be disciplined, you have to prepare, you have to rise to the stressful situations,” Chamberlin said. “It goes hand in hand. If a young man is successful in the classroom, then he’s going to be successful on the football field.”
However, those awards were never the main focus when he stepped on the field every Saturday.
“We [offensive linemen] just care about winning and protecting our QB and RB’s and giving them the best opportunities to be successful,” Morgan said.
And that he did, as he helped block for the 2014 Flyers team that led the PFL in rushing yards.
Coach Chamberlin noted that the offensive line, as a whole, was a strength for this year’s team as well and had a direct hand in them going 10-2 this past season and winning the PFL championship.
Morgan also spent his years protecting the blind side of the quarterback, a revered position on the offensive line. Not many players are cut out for that responsibility, but Chamberlin thought his features and skills made it capable for him to play there.
“Zac’s length made it harder for defensive lineman to get by him because he had such good feet,” Chamberlin said. “A lot of our offensive lineman could’ve done well there, but because of Zac’s physical features, it made it tougher for players to attack [quarterback] Alex [Jeske] from his blind side.”
Morgan could be counted on each and every game. That’s why Oregon came knocking on his door. They saw what he was doing to Pioneer Football pass rushers and wanted to see if he would be interested to play a year for them. According to Morgan, that’s the only outside offer he received to play next year, and with great people surrounding the organization and an opportunity to start, he just couldn’t pass it up.
Oregon is a perennial contender in the FCS, college football’s highest division. The Ducks played in the inaugural College Football Playoff two years ago, falling in the championship game to Ohio State. The team went 9-4 last year and is known for featuring one of the most explosive offenses in the game. Because he redshirted his freshman season at Dayton, Morgan has one year of eligibility remaining and will not have to sit out a year due to being a graduate transfer.
Chamberlin and others are happy for him, even though it means finding someone to fill the void he has left.
“There’s two things that can be taken away from him leaving for Oregon,” Chamberlin said. “One, our coaches can recognize talent, and they saw it. And the other is what kind of players we can attract to the University of Dayton.”
With moving on to Oregon, there’s one memory that will never fade from Morgan’s memory.
“The most memorable moment I’ve had at UD is definitely our game versus Marist this year,” Morgan said. “We clinched the league title with that win, and all our friends and family came on the field afterwards. Being able to share that with everyone is something that I will never forget.”
Photo: Dayton offensive tackle Zac Morgan (#70) will transfer to Oregon after graduating from UD in the spring. He will be immediately eligible to play as a graduate transfer. Chris Santucci/Multimedia Editor