HYATTSVILLE, Md. -- DeMatha hosted St. John’s (Washington, D.C.) in a primetime WCAC matchup Sept. 30. Terrapin Times was on hand to scout and interview Stags’ 2018 defensive end/outside linebacker John Morgan, who stands 6-feet-2, 236 pounds. Morgan holds a Maryland offer, along with those from Penn State; Rutgers; Virginia Tech; and Syracuse.
Our take on Morgan’s game is below, while an interview can be seen above:
Morgan lines up at defensive end and tight end for DeMatha, but he projects as a hybrid outside linebacker or a BUCK at the next level. The 6-2, 236-pounder certainly looks the part, and he has enough tools to project as an impact FBS recruit.
Physically, Morgan has a solid, well-built frame, with room to take on bulk. He has a developing base, average to good arm length, and strong hands.
At the snap, Morgan has a decent release and quickly engages his man. He keeps his feet moving after contact, which helps him push his man off the ball. Morgan also scrapes well, showing the ability to slide inside the gaps or come around end.
Furthermore, Morgan possesses deft feet that allow him to maneuver in tight quarters. He’s able to locate backs in the gaps and corral them before they can pop to the second level. Also, Morgan does a good job angling up runners and setting the edge, either funneling backs to his teammates or finishing on his own.
And when moving in for a tackle, Morgan closes quickly and drives from his base. He’s a sound form tackler and won’t allow leaky yards.
Additionally, Morgan has plus lateral agility, showing he can move down the line and make plays in space. He’s athletic enough to navigate traffic without losing momentum.
As a rusher, Morgan has a few nifty moves at his disposal. He’s able to feint outside before slicing back inside, while he has enough dexterity to loop around the edge too. Morgan knows how to drop his shoulder, gain leverage and duck underneath his man.
Finally, it’s clear Morgan’s a smart defender and seems to sense what the offense is doing. He reads and reacts well, doesn’t get caught flatfooted, and is typically around the ball -- all signs of solid field awareness.
To improve, however, Morgan needs to become even more explosive. His initial step and punch could both stand to become faster. He has to respond instantaneously at the snap, firing off the ball and rapidly thrusting his hands up.
Additionally, Morgan has to play with more knee bend as he doesn’t always come off the ball low and hard. He must make sure he strikes underneath the pads as well, because right now his power is sapped when he hits too high.
On top of that, Morgan must make sure his arms are consistently extended since blockers can get into his body. Sometimes he can get stood up at the point of attack, and once in awhile he has issues picking through the trash when running laterally.
When rushing, Morgan has to hone his technique and add to his arsenal. He could stand to become even quicker and more precise with his movements in order to consistently disrupt the quarterback/collapse the pocket. He also must keep developing his moves rather than rely on a bull-rush or simply beating a slow-footed tackle off the edge.
Next, Morgan has to improve his backside pursuit and closing speed. We’d like to see him accelerate and gain momentum in the open field, catching runners before they hit the edge. If Morgan’s going to be an outside linebacker-type in college, he’ll need to show sideline-to-sideline speed (or something close to it).
Also, Morgan has to prove he can cover in space. Right now, he’s not asked to drop back, read the quarterback, pick up a tight end and stick to his man down the field. It remains to be seen if he’s loose enough, quick enough or nimble enough to complete the latter responsibilities.
Last but not least, Morgan, like almost every high school prospect, has to continue building his frame. His upper-body could use a bit more muscle, while his base could become stouter as well.