Does Kent State start a Dodge Ram or a Cadillac Deville?

Joe Harrington

Freshman quarterback Giorgio Morgan throws a pass to a receiver during a drill at the team’s spring practice Saturday afternoon. Elizabeth Myers | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: Ron Soltys

A man walks into a car dealership looking for the perfect vehicle to get him through a long cross-country trip. On one side of the showroom, there is this massive, gas guzzling, “I’m from America — move out of my way,” 2004 Dodge Ram. On the other side of the room, there is a sleek, elegant and classic Cadillac Deville with leather seats.

The man knows that these are the best options he has because he has already test driven both automobiles and knows he loves them.

The dealership is the Kent State football team. The man is Kent State coach Doug Martin, and the truck is Julian Edelman, the senior quarterback on the 2008 team. The classic Cadillac is Giorgio Morgan, whose young sophomore throwing arm is about as sleek and elegant as those leather seats.

Although spring football practice isn’t the exact time to choose a starting quarterback, for the first time in three seasons, Martin has all his quarterbacks, and the eventual starter (unless Cleveland Browns’ Pro Bowl returner and former Kent State quarterback Josh Cribbs has some magical fifth year of eligibility), participating in practice.

Last spring, Edelman sat out after shoulder surgery, and the year before, the California native had yet to arrive from the College of San Mateo. As for Morgan, he was a senior at Tri-Cities High School in Atlanta last Spring and didn’t join the team until the summer.

“We haven’t had our starting quarterback in spring ball for the last three years,” Martin said. “This is the first time we’ve had all the quarterbacks (the third being junior Anthony Magazu, and fourth being senior Jon Brown) healthy, and that is going to help us speed up, especially the process of our passing game, because that’s where we really fell off last season.”

Martin has taken the protective red jerseys off the quarterbacks to see how Edelman, who struggled with fumbles last season, protects the ball. Meanwhile, during Saturday’s scrimmage at Dix Stadium, Morgan faced plenty of blitzes to see just how well he handles pressure in the pocket.

Morgan started two games last season, Central Michigan and Northern Illinois, before suffering a knee injury during the second quarter against the Huskies. Morgan completed 23-of-36 passes for 274 yards and three touchdowns in those games.

The two quarterbacks have completely different styles. Edelman was the second leading rusher with 455 yards and two touchdowns despite playing most of the season with a torn knee ligament and ending his season early with a broken arm. Edelman’s leadership ability and experience is a nice complement to his no-holds-barred, running back with an arm style of play.

Morgan is the classic pocket quarterback. At 6’4”, the quarterback’s 200 pounds is the only thing that needs to improve physically. His arm is strong and his throwing motion is smooth, not to mention his running ability, which could make him the most dangerous quarterback in the Mid-American Conference, someday.

But right now, Edelman appears to be in first place, as he led the Flashes to several scores on Saturday, passing and running.

Morgan made some impressive throws, but needs to improve his pocket awareness if he wants to overtake the senior who has started every game but one in 2006 and started every game but three last season out of the lineup.

As the first week of spring practice ends, and after Morgan adjusted to the chilly northern Ohio spring weather, it was all business for the future sophomore quarterback.

“It’s live now, so you get the headset,” Morgan said of the first practices. “You feel the contact and see where different people are coming from. We’re improving everyday, everyday we get a little better, so we’re heading in the right direction.”

Contact assistant sports editor Joe Harrington at [email protected].