Kennedy Ponder

Leo Morgan only spent two seasons playing football at the University of Cincinnati, but the Queen City has remained his home.

Since his arrival from Lackawanna Junior College, Leo Morgan has tried to bring the vibe of the islands to greater Cincinnati. After finishing his college football career the former Bearcats linebacker has succeeded in bringing special Jamaican dishes to the Queen City and the UC campus area. Bearcat Insider recently caught up with former University of Cincinnati linebacker Leo Morgan for what he's been doing since he finished making tackles at Nippert Stadium.

As a collegiate athlete it’s hard to imagine life after the bright lights. Unfortunately, most, if not all programs and coaches don’t prepare athletes for the reality of life after college athletics. For former University of Cincinnati football player Leo Morgan, things went in a different direction than planned but he’s nothing less than thankful.

Leo moved from Jamaica at the age of thirteen to South Windsor, Connecticut. He attended Bloomfield High School where he lost only one game his entire four years there. From there he went on to Lackawanna Junior College for two years until he was offered a full scholarship by Mark Dantonio at the University of Cincinnati and Kirk Ferentz at the University of Iowa. “I felt like Cincinnati was where I was supposed to be. I felt like the coaches really cared about my well-being and wanted me to be the best that I could be,” said Morgan. Following a rough shoulder injury during his junior year Leo came back his senior year where he started the final ten games of the season and was the fourth leading tackler on the team.

Kennedy Ponder

During his spare time at UC, Leo began cooking authentic Jamaican food for himself and his teammates, once word got out about how great it was students began asking for it as well. It became a Friday ritual.

After graduating in 2006 Leo still felt passionate about bringing Jamaican flavor to the city. He opened a restaurant in 2008 and called it Island Frydays which is located on short vine next to campus. The restaurant has a variety of authentic Jamaican foods as well as a welcoming atmosphere thanks to the friendly staff. Some years later the restaurant caught the eye of many celebrities and well-known television personality and restaurateur, Guy Fieri, who gave it a thumbs up! when he featured Island Frydays on his Food Network show Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.  

“I always knew that football wasn’t my identity, I always wanted more.” When asked if he saw himself opening a chain of Island Frydays, he mentioned that the restaurant business can be very difficult but he has thought about possibly working on a new project for the Cincinnati area. Leo’s small dream of bringing island flavor to the city during college football turned into an unexpected long term business. The restaurant has been up and running for eight years now and business continues to improve.

To learn more about Island Frydays, please visit their website at IslandFrydays.com


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