When the 7'2" Morgan stepped onto MSU's campus to join the Bulldog basketball team, his share of skeptics met him. His doubters said that he was too light, not strong enough or just not able to play in the nation's toughest conference, the SEC.
"I Know that I have to get out there on the court this season and prove myself," Morgan said. "I have to prove to myself that I should be here, and I have to prove to everyone else that I deserve this opportunity.
"I know that I can play at this level and I have worked very hard to be ready to play this season. I am just ready to get out there. That first game is going to be great."
Morgan stepped onto the MSU campus with a frail 215 pounds on his 7'2" frame. During his red-shirt season, however, Morgan has worked to gain not only weight but also strength.
"I have been as high as 252 during this off-season," Morgan said. "Right now, I have leveled off at about 245 during all of the practices and conditioning. I think I need to get up to about 265 or 270 before I am at my peak weight. Right now I have kept my speed and agility. That is my main goal with gaining weight, to still be able to move."
At 215 pounds, Morgan admittedly found it hard to play inside with the likes of Mario Austin and Lincoln Smith. This season he hopes to be able to hold his own.
"I could not bang with Mario, Link (Smith) or Marcus (Campbell) last season," Morgan said. "This conference is the toughest and most physical around. I would not have been able to help the team at the post last season. I was just too light."
Not being able to contribute at the level that he had done in high school made Morgan question himself, and find it hard to continue to work at gaining weight and improving. But, Morgan found motivation from a very intense source.
"Going from starting every game to not playing at all is very tough. At times I did not want to keep working. But, (strength) coach (Richard) Akins really pushed me and helped me," said Morgan as he pointed to his 'I survived Camp Akins' T-shirt. "Anyone will tell you that he is tough on his players, but he also cares about every one of them. He has helped a lot of players get to where they wanted to be. When I would get down he would always be on me to work hard, and then when I finished he was right there telling me I did a great job. That is really what I needed."
Now that he has finished his red-shirt season, Morgan knows that he has to be ready at any moment. But, that is why he has been preparing for the last year.
"I cannot wait until that first game," Morgan said. "To get out there and compete in front of the fans will be great. I know that all of this work has paid off, and I am ready to help this team in any way I can. My first game, I just want to play good defense and help the team get a win. That is what I want most of all, help this team win."
Grant Alford is a free-lance correspondent for Gene's Page. He is a student at Mississippi State University. You can contact him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.