‘Tree' Ready to Branch Out

Life of a scout team player can be a frustrating existence. Very few events in a young football player's life, will test patience as sitting out the season and anxiously waiting till next year's campaign. Tranell Morant accepted that faith and has been making the most of the lay-off. The transfer defensive end from Florida realizes the benefits that have taken place both for himself and the team.

One would think that the extra practices would create even more restlessness to scout team players such as the 6-5 272 Tranell Morant, who's nicknamed ‘Tree'. Yet the sophomore is taking everything in stride. "I got through the hardest part and that's going through 11 games," he said. "Now we have the bowl game and I need to help the team prepare for that and get a win against Rutgers."

Can this helping process be a two-way street? "Oh definitely," Morant replied. "When I work hard at practice I'm helping the offensive linemen, but I'm also bettering myself, and they help me too. I worked tremendously on pass rush. I worked much harder on my run stop skills. Footwork, eye-hand coordination, stuff like that…I was also working on my conditioning."

Not having a game to prepare for, can have unfortunate yet natural effects on players sitting out a season. Morant is doing his best to buck that popular trend. "Guys that transfer tend to not work hard when they have to sit out," he remarked. "But I come and work hard, and I especially improved on my conditioning. I know I only have two years left here, and I can't B.S. around. Because I'm not playing, practice is where I get all my work in, and I'm taking that very seriously."

According to his bio on the team's official website, the Florida transfer is majoring in criminal justice and is interested in a career in law enforcement. He actually got his feet wet working with the canine unit of the Alachua County Sheriff's Department in Florida. Through his outgoing personality and vocal demeanor during practices – Morant is laying down the law based on his philosophy as to what an effective defensive unit needs. "You got to bring an intense mindset to the defense," he explained. "You have to have the guys rally together with you. If you're sitting there all quiet and not enthusiastic, that creates a bad trend on the whole defense, and players can't feed off that. You have to have a group of energetic guys - that creates a great defense."

The scout team concept isn't foreign to Morant. He redshirted his first year with the Gators in 2003, and saw somewhat limited action last season (232 snaps is 11 games). Sitting out another year out of football could have been his main compliant these days, but when it comes to dealing with the transition to Arizona, the defensive end has a big gripe about mother nature.

"When I first got here it was 120 degrees, and it was night time," he recalled. Yeah it was dry – but it was hot! (smile). I found myself sweating just sitting down doing nothing. Now it's real cold here. It's like a blizzard here for me, and I gotta wear my fur coat (smile). You can wear shorts back in Miami during Christmas (smile)."

His move to the Valley of Sun was made easier when another Florida transfer and former teammate, tight end Dane Guthrie, has made the same decision and that is to join the Sun Devils. "Having someone from your hometown, someone you played with really helps," stated Morant. "You have the same agenda because you're both sitting out. You're just each other's backbone and you help each other prepare for next year."

No matter how reputable of program a school may have, if a university is located in the west region of the country attracting players east of the Mississippi is usually a rare occurrence. Yet Morant and Guthrie made the cross-country move, and their decision wasn't one they agonized about. "It wasn't hard at all, because (ASU Defensive Coordinator) Coach Bill Miller is out here," said Morant. "I played for the guy for two years. He recruited me when he was at Michigan State, and he recruited me when he was at Florida. I believe in his defense, and I didn't care how far it was to play for him again. I know I'll do great playing for him. I know it's hard for guys from the state of Florida to leave for the West Coast, because you have three great schools in the state. So I knew coming out of high school that I was gonna stay in-state. But now I'm here."

Additionally, living far from home does carry a lot of positives according to Morant. "I grew up in Miami and the University of Miami recruited me hard. But I knew I had to get away and get focused, and that meant going four hours north to Gainesville. Getting away matures you, and turns you from a boy into a man."

No one would blame Morant just going through the motions these days, with his mind heavily on the 2006 season and the contributions he can make on the defensive line. However, to make such an assertion is borderline insulting to the defensive end. "Look at me man, I'm drenched," said a sweat-soaked Morant following practice. "I'm excited, and I can't wait to come to the next practice and help the guys prepare for Rutgers. We'll get that game over with, and then I get to start preparing for next season."

Sun Devil Source Top Stories