Giorgio Morgan: Ready for his closeup

Nick Walton

After redshirting last season, sophomore has big shoes to fill as No. 1 quarterback

Sophomore quarterback Giorgio Morgan will be starting tomorrow night as the Flashes take on Coastal Carolina at Dix Stadium. Rachel Kilroy | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: DKS Editors

Julian Edelman led the nation in rushing yards for quarterbacks last season. Julian Edelman led the Flashes in total offense for the last three seasons. Julian Edelman is third in total offense all time at Kent State.

Julian Edelman is gone.

With Edelman’s departure for the NFL, sophomore quarterback Giorgio Morgan takes over as the starter and is expected to bring balance to the Flashes’ offense. For Morgan, being named the starting quarterback is a change in mindset and responsibility from being a backup.

“When I was named the head quarterback, it was just a stepping stone,” Morgan said. “I’ve got to go out here, and I got to lead every day. I can’t take no days off. I can’t come out here and all of a sudden decide I don’t want to practice because now I’m the starting quarterback.”

Morgan said his skills are different than Edelman’s because he sees himself as more of a traditional passing quarterback.

“Julian could throw the ball, but me and (senior quarterback Anthony Magazu) are not those guys that are going to run for 150 yards a game,” Morgan said. “I could run if I wanted to, but I prefer to drop back and stay within my reads and give the offense that edge.”

Kent State coach Doug Martin said he chose Morgan over Magazu because of his arm strength, ability to see the field and lack of turnovers.

“He’s a real student of the game,” Martin said. “He wants to be coached, he wants to learn – he comes to practice every day and plays just like it’s a game.”

Going into the 2008 season, Morgan competed with Magazu for the backup position and was eventually redshirted. Martin said being redshirted last season helped Morgan make the transition from backup to starter.

“Last year was a really good learning experience for Giorgio, being redshirted, because he didn’t have any pressure on him. He could just learn from watching Julian Edelman, who was a great leader,” Martin said. “Now he understands what it means to be the guy. You have to be a leader. It’s not a choice. You have to be a leader.”

In 2007, multiple injuries at the quarterback position gave Morgan the chance to demonstrate his skills as a freshman in a start against Central Michigan. Morgan completed 18 of 28 passes for 247 yards and three touchdowns. The next week, Morgan was injured against Northern Illinois in the second quarter.

“Coach Martin made it real easy for me (freshman year),” Morgan said. “Now that I’m the starting quarterback, there’s no difference – he makes everything so simple to the point where I don’t have to go out and lead this team by myself.”

Morgan has already gained the respect of his teammates as a player and leader and was named a team captain.

“I actually think he had the respect when Julian was here,” senior wide receiver Derek McBryde said. “It was just, when it’s your time, it’s your time, and I think he understands that. He’s real mature for his age.”

While making a transition from a backup to a team leader can be a daunting task, Morgan doesn’t feel any added pressure handling the responsibility.

“At the quarterback position, you always got to lead by example,” Morgan said. “You always got to work harder than everybody on the field. You can’t have a bad day. Just being a captain is just what a quarterback is.”

Contact sports reporter Nick Walton at [email protected].