Closing The Book

Jake Morgan didn't pay any attention to the draft this week. At least not from a personal standpoint.

That's because the five-year member of the Ole Miss baseball program had already let scouts know not to draft him. His baseball playing days are over.

"It's been a great experience, and it's one of those things you wish didn't have to end," the Rebels' stellar closer said. "But eventually it does."

Some had wondered lately about a sixth year with a possible medical redshirt situation since he was out the entire 2010 season with Tommy John rehab and had redshirted his first year in college in 2007.

"The way it's been explained to me, I don't have the possibility of another year," Morgan said. "The way the NCAA looks at it is I already had a redshirt year and a year I've sat out for my injury. It's not really possible for me to get another year. I have exhausted my eligibility."

So he isn't coming back for more college baseball, and he isn't going to play more organized baseball. He hopes there isn't any further surgery in his future as a result of injury either.

Morgan after feeling something in his shoulder vs. Bama this season
Bruce Newman
Morgan, who suffered a shoulder injury in March while pitching the first weekend of the Southeastern Conference season against Alabama, said he's taking it easy now.

"Right now I'm just kind of laying off of it and not doing too much with it," he said. "I just want to see if that will take the inflammation down in the AC joint. If it still bothers me in a couple of months, I probably will go ahead and have surgery."

Morgan has had his share of health problems, especially the past three years.

"In athletics injuries are very likely," he said. "They come to you quite often. You don't really go a day without feeling sore somewhere."

This year that was especially the case with three of the Rebels' most important players all spending some time on the sideline. Morgan was joined by veterans Matt Smith and Matt Snyder as Rebels who found the training room too often.

"Who would know baseball could be so dangerous?" said Morgan, also in reference to the most recent setback for the trio, Snyder taking a pitch to the face last Saturday night in a summer league game in Virginia.

"It's always tough when the guys who have been here, the guys who are supposed to be the team leaders, aren't out there on the field. You have something missing. It was difficult. We all three love to compete and wanted to be out there as much as we can. We did everything we could to be out there for the team."

Morgan with two degrees - in marketing and in management - is now job-hunting as he plans for his upcoming October wedding to his girlfriend of nine years, Rachel Smith. He went to Canton Academy, she went to Benton Academy.

"Twenty minutes from Canton, between Yazoo City and Canton," Morgan said of Benton Academy. "We started dating when we were 14."

Now that there's no more baseball and with marriage on the way, gainful employment is his goal.

Morgan sporting a bloody nose vs. Virginia in the '09 Super Regional
Bruce Newman
"I'm looking for a job," he said. "The way the job market is right now, anything that would help me get a foot in the door would be great. I've done a couple of interviews, and I've got a followup interview Monday. Hopefully that works out."

Morgan said his best memory playing at Ole Miss was the game-winning home run by Matt Smith in game one of the 2009 Super Regional against Virginia. That was the day in pregame warm-ups that Morgan took a ball square to the face. He was still able to pitch the three final innings of the 12-inning game, recording just one hit and one walk with no runs scored.

His statistics this past season were phenomenal, despite the setbacks with his health. He missed five consecutive SEC series and also wasn't able to pitch in another series against Mississippi State in May.

He pitched 25 innings in 2011 with no earned runs. None. An ERA of 0.00.

Talk about valuable to his team. Last postseason he was on the 25-man traveling squad, even though he was still rehabbing and could not pitch. That's how much his coaches thought the team benefited from his presence, even without him ever entering a game.

There were many highlights in five years, Morgan said. Some downs. Lots of ups.

He hates it's all over.

"I loved playing at Ole Miss," he said. "It was the greatest experience in the world for me. I wish I had another year. It's been the best five years of my life. If I could extend it a year, I definitely would."

But he can't. And he moves on from here, making plans for life after college and baseball.

"I decided not to pursue that career," he said of baseball as a living. "The lifestyle of professional baseball isn't something for me. The constant grind of playing nonstop just wasn't something that appealed to me. I grew up in a small town. I've always been a home-body. All things considered, I just didn't see an extended career in baseball in my future. It wasn't something I wanted to pursue."

And now he will see what's ahead from this point on.

"Time will tell," Morgan said, which is something he learned quite well the past five years as an Ole Miss Rebel. "Time has told me a lot."

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