D.J. Morgan wanted to do something special to honor his late friend David Aguilar, who died in January 2006. Aguilar would have turned 17 on Sunday.
Morgan decided he would use that date to publicly announce a verbal commitment he gave to Notre Dame back on Sept. 6. The 6-foot-2, 185-pound athlete from St. John Bosco High School in Bellflower, Calif., becomes the 15th commitment in the Irish class and third at safety, a need position.
“It means a lot to announce on his birthday because since his death I dedicated every game, every season and every moment to him,” Morgan said.
Morgan, who originally committed to Arizona State before backing off that pledge in July, chose the Irish for several reasons. One of those was a family connection to Notre Dame. Morgan cousins with former Irish All-American basketball star Skylar Diggins.
“It’s the combination of the great education and degree you get from Notre Dame and the football program,” he said. “They’re losing a few safeties next year so that definitely interests me.”
He mother, who isn’t a fan of flying, will have the opportunity to see him in person several times as well as to watch every home game on television.
“My mom is happy about it,” Morgan said. “I’m going to try and get her to fly out there. Hopefully she will, but the games are on TV, so she’ll be able to watch me plus she can go to the Stanford and USC games.”
According to St. John Bosco coach Jason Negro, Morgan is a perfect fit for the Irish.
“The thing that’s really going to help him is we’re very similar in terms of philosophy and things like that,” Negro said. “Coming from a Catholic high school, he’s a total fit character-wise. I’m a Notre Dame fan, so it’s really great for me to see the kind of kids we have in our program can go to that school with all the reputation and tradition they have.”
Morgan, who missed most of his freshman season at St. John Bosco with an injury, has developed into a solid all-around football player.
“In terms of football, I think he’s a super experienced player,” Negro said. “He played for us for three years now and has a lot of experience. He’s extremely cerebral. I think that’s one of the best things. He’s kind of like our quarterback on the defense. He knows all the coverages and the fronts that we’re supposed to be in and the checks. He’s really good at watching personnel and things like that. The cerebral thing is probably the greatest thing he brings to the game.”
As a sophomore, Morgan transitioned from receiver to safety and never looked back.
“He was kind of a long, gangly type of player,” Negro said. “He got hurt his freshman year and he was pretty much out the entire year. By the time he got to become a sophomore we moved his position. We had more of a need on the defensive side of the ball. His confidence has really grown the last three years. He’s just really scratching the surface of his ability because he’s such a young player. I think that’s just going to help him in the future as he learns the position even more.”
Morgan has the versatility to bounce around on defense.
“We’re a big quarters team, a big two-high team where he’s got to play on top of things but we can also roll him down and play him in the box because he’s such a physical player,” Negro said. “We have the ability to do multiple things with him because he’s so smart. We can roll him in the box and he can play in a two-high look or play over the top of things in a quarters or Cover 2 situation. He’s got a lot of versatility. We do a lot with him but he plays completely within our system.”