There’s at least one Razorback that arrived in Tuscaloosa on Friday brimming with confidence about Arkansas’ Saturday night game with No. 8 Alabama.
That would be Arkansas junior wide receiver Drew Morgan (6-0, 195), who has caught a team-leading 23 passes for a team-high 413 yards.
“It's going to be a dogfight from the get go,” Morgan said. “We know that and they know that. We're not going to come in and give up anything right away. We've made adjustments from the previous couple of games. We've seen film already. We've watched a lot of film up here until 11 or 12 at night.
“We're going to try to get the most over the top edge that we can get on this football team. Because we know what they're capable of doing and they've showed it in the past. Another thing is we're going to try not to beat ourselves. We're going to be very disciplined, no penalties, play clean, no turnovers and play Razorback football.”
Morgan had 8 catches for a career-high 155 yards against Texas A&M and followed that up with five catches for 110 yards against Tennessee.
“I like to catch the ball in space,” Morgan said. “ I feel like I’m quick enough and fast enough and I thank strength and conditioning coach (Ben) Herb(ert) for getting my right in the summer.”
Former Arkansas quarterback and current SEC Network analyst Clint Stoerner has certainly taken notice.
“Drew Morgan is a great player, and I love his story,” Stoerner said. “ I love the way he goes about the game. I want to play with him, absolutely. And he's stepped up and it's making everybody better. There's no doubt about it.”
Morgan rose to the top of the receiving ranks when three starters – Keon Hatcher, Cody Hollister and Jared Cornelius all went down with injuries.
He immediately took over the leadership of an inexperience group of wideouts such as Jojo Robinson, Kendrick Edwards and Dominique Reed.
“I feel like I’ve gained not just the outside world’s respect, but my team’s respect,” Morgan said. “The wide receiver group looks at me as the go-to guy now. I feel like with that chip on my shoulder I have to lead this group. Just like I said before, the game on Saturday, I’m trying to prove this wide receiving corps still has some juice.”
Morgan talked about his type of leadership going back to his high school days in Greenwood.
“I go back to old high school days because that’s what I’m used to,” Morgan said. “Used to going back to Greenwood and leading those younger wide receivers and when they look up to you and you’re doing the right thing, they want to do the right thing.
“As long as I’m doing the right things on and off the field, that’s what Jojo, Kendrick, Dominique and the younger guys not in the room necessarily as much as they should be, I feel like they’re watching me as well.
“I feel like every year there is a little angel on my shoulder saying ‘hey, you can lead one way or another.’ I feel like freshman year I led off the field. Sophomore, I led somewhat on, but more off.
“This year I felt like I was in a leadership role as a player. I’m going to let my game speak for itself. Off the field always. Now as I’m getting into this role of you’re the go-to guy, you’re the guy we need to get open every time, I feel like I’m more of a respected vocal leader for the wideouts.”
He was thrilled that Reed ripped off a 33-yard touchdown last week in Arkansas’ 24-20 road win at Tennessee.
“I was the first one in the end zone celebrating with him,”’ Morgan said. “Playing against him in high school and knowing what he can do, bringing that to this level with me, it's a humbling experience.”
Morgan and Reed are the same age and had a couple of battles where Morgan’s Greenwood team beat Reed’s Camden Fairview team.
“In sophomore year, state championship game, he had 200-something yards on us and we ended up coming back and winning,” Morgan said. “ Still holds that grudge on me today. Junior year, we beat them in the semis by Adam McFain's field goal. I hold that on him today. But you know we're on the same team and seeing each other score touchdowns it's a cool thing.
Morgan had one of the week’s best quotes – one that described going into Neyland Stadium in Knoxville and winning.
“That is a good feeling, not only just because we won, but we won on the road,” Morgan said. “So we know what is feels like to go over to somebody’s house, kick down the front door and take their TV.
“I feel like it was a good experience for the team and it builds confidence knowing that you can go into somebody’s else house and beat them builds belief.
“I believe we can do this because we have done this before. That is something that I have learned from high school and I am trying to bring up here.”