In Saturday’s season-opening 58-14 win over Murray State, TB Morgan Steward made his Missouri debut, and scored his first touchdown in the Black & Gold. He finished the day with 8 carries for 25 yards and 1 TD. On Monday, he took time to speak with ShowMeMizzou.com, and he talked about his first-game experience.
“I was very excited to get out there,” explained Steward. “I was excited! It’s been a while since I got to play, after red-shirting, so I just excited to finally get out on the field.”
With about four minutes remaining in the third quarter, Steward came in to run the football behind the second-team offensive line. With Missouri up 51-14, Coach Pinkel had called off the dogs and everyone in the stadium knew that the Tigers were going to be running the football. The red-shirt freshman picked up some tough yards, including a first down before heading to the sideline for a series. Then, he returned to the field to finish off the drive. Two carries later, it was third and goal from the 1-yard line. Steward took the hand-off and was hit at the 1-yard line, yet he managed to get it into the end zone.
“I was happy! I was just excited to get out there,” said Steward, talking about his first playing experience and touchdown. “The O-line, they did a great job of opening it up for me. I was just praying to God that I would get it in, do my job and make it happen, do it right, the way I’m supposed to do it. So, I’m happy that I did that!”
I asked Steward what he thought of his performance after he reviewed it on film?
“I was definitely excited to see the film,” said Steward. “I thought I actually looked pretty good! I thought I looked comfortable, which was a big deal. I wanted to be comfortable and relaxed. And, I think I accomplished that. And, I had my confidence. My confidence was there. And, I ran hard. The offensive line, they obviously opened it up and made it easier for me……………………………….. I think every single one of my reads was the right read. We’re supposed to press the point of attack, like Coach Jones teaches us, and I did that the way he was looking for me to do it. When the hole was there, I hit it as hard as I could, and try to get it to where it’s supposed to be.”
I asked Steward about the second effort that got him across the goal line?
“Whew, boy! At first, I was just praying,” explained Steward, as he reflected back on his first touchdown run. “I knew they were giving me the ball. I knew I had to somehow just get it in. So as soon as I got it, I just let it take from there. And, I got hit on the one, and I just kept driving. I had to do kind of a spin to kind of squirm through whichever way I could. That’s what I was thinking. So, I got it in. And after that, it was just one of the most exciting experiences I’ve ever had. It’s been a long time. I was just so excited to go out there and do that!”
Steward pointed out that playing on special teams in a game is a lot different than in practice. He said that now that he has that game experience on special teams, he’ll be better prepared for it.
Steward said that he is a lot more prepared to play this year than he would have been last year.
“The biggest difference, the big deal has to do with probably being comfortable and having confidence,” explained Steward. “I think last year if I was out there, I think I would have been excited and ready to go, but there would have been a difference with my confidence level and with my readiness. After having a year of red-shirting, and playing with everybody, and being in the system for a while, I know what I’m doing, I’m comfortable out there, I was relaxed. There was no nervousness or nothing. I was just ready to go, excited to go make it happen. So, I was just excited to be out there. It’s a different deal with confidence.”
This spring, the 6’0” 210-pound red-shirt freshman ran a 4.34-second 40-yard dash. He posted a 42” vertical jump, and a 4.09-second 5-10-5 shuttle, to go along with 19 reps at 225 pounds in the bench press, a bench maximum of 375 pounds, 370 pounds in the hang clean, and a maximum in the squat of 565 pounds.
Steward has been working hard to get better.
“I’m just working to improve every day,” explained Steward. “The sky is the limit. God’s blessed me. I know He has a plan. He’s blessed me where there’s a lot more to it. And, there’s a lot more coming. I just have to keep working on a consistent basis, and making myself better. And, I’m going to get there.”
Steward is looking forward to more opportunities to tote the rock this season.
“I would love too! It’s a blessing that we have such a great corps of running backs,” said Steward. “I’m thankful that we have such a great corps of running backs, so that we can make each other better…………………………………… I definitely would love to (carry the football). It’s always up to the coaches. Hopefully, they trust me. I know that they do. So, whenever it does come time, I’m just going to always be ready. I’m always going to work on being ready, if I’m ever called on to be out there. I’m just excited about this season, and whatever I can bring to the table. I just want to help the team in whatever way possible.”