After Jordan Morrison capped a record-setting 2016 season by rushing for 70 yards and two touchdowns in Steinert’s 14-13 Thanksgiving win over Hamilton, then-senior Jordan Goodarz observed of his teammate, “He’s an athlete. He’s going places.”
Goodarz was quite prophetic, as Morrison is going to a place called Storrs, Connecticut. His next stop is the University of Connecticut, where Morrison committed to in June. But first, he has a busy autumn ahead of him.
“We’re expecting him to be a team leader now that he’s a senior and, let’s face it, he’s not gonna be coming off the field much,” coach Dan Caruso said. “He will be everywhere. Slot receiver, outside receiver, running back, quarterback, cornerback, safety, kick returner, punt returner.
“While a lot of people know about him in the county, he’s gonna be the guy that our offense goes through. While we do have other weapons around him this year, he’s still going to be the main driving force behind our offense, there’s no secret about that.”
That’s just find with Morrison.
“I’m willing to do anything they want me to do; it doesn’t really matter to me,” said the guy known to teammates as J-Mo. “I love just being able to play and be on the field.”
Morrison is coming off an individual season that reflected his team’s. After starting 2-5, the Spartans won their final three to finish .500.
During the winning streak, Morrison rushed for 12 touchdowns and nearly 500 yards. His eye-opening performance came when he rushed for 286 yards and six touchdowns against West Windsor-Plainsboro North to start the winning streak. He followed with four touchdowns against Pinelands, including the game-winner in overtime, and capped it with his Rich Fornaro Award-winning effort against West.
Morrison rushed for nearly 1,000 yards and broke Scott Dickson’s 27-year school record with 21 touchdowns. For his career he’s rushed for over 1,500 yards and scored 30 TDs, while playing running back, slot receiver and quarterback. He played the final three quarters at QB last Thanksgiving when starter Kyle Gankiewicz suffered a neck injury.
Caruso feels his most natural position is in the slot, which provides ample rushing attempts in Steinert’s offense. Morrison said UConn wants him as a strong safety.
“I’ve been working at free safety and corner a lot, so I’m pretty comfortable at both those spots now,” he said.
“His work ethic has gotten so much better,” Caruso said. “His vision has always been fantastic, but he’s worked so hard to become a better defensive back. That’s improved by leaps and bounds.”
That’s not the only way he has grown as a player.
“He came up as a freshman (at the end of the season), and it was fun seeing it. But he was a little nervous, and he was a lot smaller then,” Caruso said. “It’s been fun watching him grow every single year. He’s never lacked for confidence. That’s the one thing about him. And when we brought him up as freshman he was 150 pounds and now he’s at 195. He’s so much bigger physically.”
‘The only thing I really want is for the team to go out with a state championship win, and just have that ring.’
Morrison grew up playing neighborhood pick-up games with his friends, while also playing in the Hamilton Football League in 4th/5th grade and for the Pop Warner Revolution in Middle School. During that time he began attending Steinert games to watch big brother Mike play.
“I didn’t really go to high school football games until my brother got to high school,” Jordan said. “I started watching Steinert football when my brother was a freshman. Since I was playing football and watching Steinert football, I was thinking ‘That’s gonna be me.’”
And while Mike was a solid defensive player who actually won the 2013 Thanksgiving game with a late interception, Jordan has become the marquee Morrison with his exploits. He was able to play with Mike as a freshman in 2014 and scored a touchdown in his first game at West Windsor-Plainsboro South.
The following year he scored three TDs in an opening-season win over WW-P North and a career was underway. The 6-foot-2, 195-pounder does not possess blazing speed, but is quick, elusive and powerful. It took a while for him to grasp that last attribute.
“He’s finally realized what we’ve been waiting for him to realize since his sophomore year, that he’s physically bigger than people and a lot of times he can impose his will,” Caruso said. “He came to that realization about halfway through last year.”
“I also got mentally stronger over the years,” Morrison said. “My sophomore year, I was never the type to lower my shoulder. Now I feel I can pretty much do that any time.”
That’s not to say he does not have speed to get around a tackler. As he gained muscle weight, he maintained his quickness.
“He’s not a track star, but he’s quick on the football field,” Caruso said. “He’s got a tremendous burst, and the ability to make them miss. His running style is his greatest asset. He’s not gonna be a guy that runs away from everyone. At the same time, he’s football fast, he’s not slow by any means.”
Despite Steinert losing four of its five starting offensive linemen last year, Caruso still feels there is a strong offensive cast to support Morrison, noting that senior running back Xavier Thompson is a dangerous weapon that will mean defenses cannot key on Jordan. He is high on several other skill position players as well.
To say Morrison is excited about Steinert’s team would be an understatement.
“I just hope I come out of this season healthy, but I don’t have any goals for myself,” he said. “The only thing I really want is for the team to go out with a state championship win, and just have that ring.”
It is also a year that will include the first home night game in Spartan history, when a week filled with games under rented lights concludes with Nottingham paying a Friday night visit.
“October 27th, seven o’clock,” Morrison said the second the subject was brought up. “I already know about it. That’s gonna be a real fun game…a reeeaal fun game. I can’t wait for it.”
Home night games will be commonplace after this year, when Morrison becomes the fourth Steinert product to play Division I football at a New England school in the past six years. He had 14 Division I offers and it came down to University of Virginia and UConn.
“You know how you get that feeling like it’s home and you just feel really comfortable?” Morrison said of UConn. “That was pretty much what made my decision, plus I loved it. I loved the coaching staff, I just loved everything about it.”
Morrison is undecided on his major, as he tries to decide between sports management, finance and history.
That seems appropriate, since Morrison is putting his name in the Steinert record books. With one more season to go, it will be interesting to see the numbers he puts up.
One thing is certain. He has no regrets.
“My main goal coming to high school football was I always wanted to play Division I football, so in the offseason I was always working, working, working,” he said. “As I’ve been working, the game has pretty much slowed down. Especially since I’ve been on the team a couple years now. Knowing I can play, the game speed is getting slower and I’m just comfortable with it. I think my high school career has gone pretty good.”
If what he’s done so far is “pretty good,” it boggles the mind to see what happens if he has a really good senior season.