When Jaylen Morgan was 12 years old, he took the football field for the first time with big footsteps to follow - former BYU standout and CFL player Omarr Morgan is his dad.
Morgan only took a few of those steps before he thought football wasn’t for him.
“I remember I played football for like two days when I was 12,” Morgan said. “I had come late to signing up and then I got hit as a running back. I got hit and then I told my mom, ‘Never, I’m never playing this sport again. Forget this sport.’”
Basketball had been his game of choice since that moment - until last year, that is. Morgan realized that his elite athleticism could take him places in sports, but at 6-foot-1, it likely wasn’t to be in basketball.
“When I was a junior, I had to realize that basketball wasn’t going to get me where I wanted to go,” Morgan said. “I didn’t feel I was elite enough to play college basketball. After that I said, ‘Why not; why not try football?’ And here I am.”
Where is he? After just over a year of actually playing football, Morgan has landed offers from his father’s alma mater BYU, as well as Hawaii, San Diego State and Northern Colorado. He has also gained interest from a variety of other schools including UCLA and Wyoming.
It obviously didn’t take long for him to get noticed by college football coaches for his talents on the football field. His coaches at Hawthorne High School threw him into the mix in the secondary immediately.
“My first year they put me at safety for the first four games,” Morgan explained. “When we played Culver City, we changed the defense and they had a pretty good receiver. They put me on him and I shut him down. The coaches said, ‘You know what, how about we play you at corner.’ Ever since then I’ve played corner.
“My coaches just put me on the best receiver and I shut them down. I have a lot of confidence in my game and that carries me a long way.”
Morgan has a lot of room to grow, but he credits the knowledge of his father Omarr, who held a presence in the CFL as a cornerback for over a decade, to why he has caught on so fast.
“My dad was a great corner and he played at BYU and in the CFL,” Morgan said. “Most of my skill, I learned it from my dad. He has taught me a lot and I’m trying to build off of what he taught me and take his knowledge, put it into my game and bring it all together. My dad really has helped my game evolve and prosper.”
As a newer player to the game, Morgan sees his potential as one of his biggest assets.
“I believe my game has a lot of potential,” Morgan said. “I’m a very fast and athletic corner. What I see is that coaches can build off of that. They can teach me more technique and teach me more about the game. Once I have the technique, and my athleticism to go with it, I could be a real shutdown corner. I feel like I’m more of an athletic corner.
“I think I have a lot of room to improve. If I get all the techniques, the proper backpedals, the proper reads - I think I could be a really good corner.”
Over the summer leading into his senior year, Jaylen Morgan caught on with Keyshawn Johnson’s 7v7 team, Team 19, and started picking up interest on the recruiting front. Now Morgan has four offers to consider and will likely see a few more, but he’s concentrating on his senior season before he starts closing on a decision.
“I’m really focused on the season right now because my school hasn’t been to the playoffs in over 20 years,” Morgan said. “Right now we’re trying to start a new legacy. Once the season ends, I’ll for sure think about what school I want to go to.”
He and his dad will discuss what official visits he will consider after the end of the season.
He has been building relationships with coaching staff throughout this season, however. BYU and Hawaii were two that he noted as having good relationships with. He has been talking most with BYU Defensive Coordinator Nick Howell and offensive line coach Garret Tujague, as well as Hawaii defensive backs coach Abe Elimimian.
“Me and coach Abe had a pretty good conversation (recently),” Morgan said. “We just talk about random things. It’s pretty cool talking to him. He relates to us, the younger generation. As a younger coach, he knows what we like to do.”
After his senior season, Morgan won't be playing football, but he does plan to run the 100 and the 100 relay in track before he heads off to college.