COLLEGE PARK, Md. – If Maryland receiver Teldrick Morgan is to be taken at his word, the best is yet to come. The senior New Mexico State transfer said he tends to shine when his parents, Jimison and Tomia, are looking on, but so far they’ve only been afforded one home game at Maryland Stadium. But come Oct. 1, the Terps return to College Park for their homecoming game against Purdue, which is special for Morgan in and of itself. The Hanover, Md., native spent the last four years in New Mexico, first at New Mexico Prep and then at NMSU, so now he finally has the chance to play in front of the hometown faithful on a major stage.
“My parents came out to New Mexico once in awhile; they had to make a couple trips. But now my parents can come to every game,” said the 6-foot, 190-pound Morgan, who starred at Meade High but didn’t receive any Division I offers. “This is very exciting for me. I love when my parents come to the games. It gets me motivated and I play better.”
Morgan, however, has already put forth a pretty good foot away from the friendly local confines. Through three games, including the last two on the road, Morgan’s racked up eight receptions for 129 yards, with almost half of that yardage total coming in the last matchup at UCF. During that double-overtime victory, Morgan hauled in only two passes, but one went for 51 yards and set up a key field goal at the end of the first half.
The latter was Morgan’s first “explosive play,” giving a glimpse of the reputation he earned at New Mexico State. A former all-state track star, Morgan eventually developed “football speed” and quick-twitch moves out West, becoming a dynamic open-field threat as a receiver and returner.
“He’s a really good receiver. He’s got that savvy about him, and he can do pretty special things with the ball in his hands,” head coach D.J. Durkin said. “He’s going to help us.”
Morgan admitted it wasn’t exactly the smoothest transition from NMSU to Maryland, though. First of all, he had to adjust to being back in the D.C. area after four years living in New Mexico. Then, after arriving at UMD, he quickly realized he still had much to learn stepping up from an FBS Independent to a Big Ten program with a rather complicated up-tempo spread offense.
Enter UMD receivers’ coach Chris Beatty, whose resume and reputation developing wideouts speaks for itself. With Beatty's help, Morgan rose from second team when he arrived in June to starter opposite D.J. Moore three games into 2016.
“Coach Beatty knows pretty much everything. Coming here, he taught me a mix of things to better my game. We do a couple things before practice and it’s been working for me,” Morgan said. “I knew a couple things coming in, but it’s really the little things he’s helping me with. He’s helped me with footwork, hand placement on blocks, and when the ball is in the air, how to catch it and what to do [after the catch]. Things of that nature.”
Morgan said after four years of college ball, he obviously knows how to catch. Otherwise, he would’ve been moved to defense a couple seasons ago.
“But I’m really focused on blocking right now to be a complete receiver,” said Morgan, who threw a key block in the UCF game that sprung running back LoLo Harrison for a touchdown. “And another thing I need to work on is running my routes. I’ve been [working] on that a lot.”
So, apparently, have the rest of Maryland’s receivers. Through three games, the Terps have six pass catchers with more than one reception, and that doesn’t even include veteran Levern Jacobs, who has yet to get his season jumpstarted.
“We have a lot of guys who can contribute. We don’t have just a couple guys who are go-to guys,” Morgan said. “We have a lot of playmakers… And the running game, we have a lot of good backs and that helps open up [the passing game]. For me, [the receivers’ success] is not surprising.”
Time will tell whether Morgan and his cohorts can keep showing out. It’s one thing to show out against Howard and FIU; it’s another to consistently generate yards against Big Ten competition.
“It’s a new season for us,” Morgan said. “Right now we’re 0-0; we haven’t won a game yet. That’s the mindset we have.”