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Football: UL’s Morgan has earned his shot

Adversity is nothing new for Cajuns’ star safety

LaMar Morgan admits the process leading up to the NFL draft can be quite stressful.

Trainers push your body to the limit in early


morning workouts.

Pro scouts dissect your every step during drills.

Experts yap non-stop about your prospects for this weekend’s draft.

"A lot of guys are stressed out right now, but I’m not

really worried about getting drafted," said the former UL safety, who has been training at TEST Sports Club in New Jersey. "But I’ve been through a lot already."

The proof is in the setbacks Morgan has already overcome.


  • As a freshman he missed the season-opener with a wrist injury. He later missed the final three games that season when he blew out his left knee. That required a patella tendon transplant from his right knee.


  • After sitting out the 2004 season as a medical redshirt, Morgan missed two of his last four games as a sophomore when a hit reopened the surgery scar on his right knee.


  • The Texas native started all 12 games as a junior despite playing with constant pain in his left leg. Later he learned he had been playing with a tumor in his left thighbone.


  • In February 2007 he underwent surgery to have the tumor removed and replaced with a bone graph from his thighbone. Doctors placed a screw inside his hip joint and secured a plate to his thighbone with five screws.


  • As a senior team captain he missed the season-opener and saw limited playing time in the second and third game while recovering from surgery. He started the final nine games, finishing strong with 24 tackles in his last three games. He recorded 55 tackles and three pass breakups on the year.

    After enduring all that, Morgan graduated in December and was a semifinalist for the 2007 Draddy Trophy, given annually to the nation’s college football player with the best combination of academics, community service and on-field performance.

    "LaMar is an extraordinary young man," UL coach Rickey Bustle said. "He’s overcome so many things. You can count on him being there every day and giving everything he’s got.

    "I’m really proud of him."

    On a break from training in February, Morgan played in the Texas vs. the Nation All-Star Challenge in El Paso, Texas. He logged two tackles in a 41-14 win as Team Texas forced six turnovers and held Team Nation to 189 total yards.

    Morgan returned to New Jersey after the game to train until UL’s Pro Day on March 17. Without an invitation to the NFL Combine in Indianapolis he needed a strong workout. He measured in at 6-foot-1 1/2, 218 pounds and was timed in the 40-yard dash in the 4.46-4.53 second range. He posted a vertical leap of 35.5 inches and a broad jump of 10 feet, 6.5 inches.

    After his workout, Morgan did defensive back drills for a Packers scout and spoke with scouts from the Saints, Rams and Titans. His agent, Andrew Bondarowicz, later received calls from multiple teams, including the Saints, Giants, Chiefs and Cardinals.

    The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported earlier this week that the Packers remain interested in Morgan, who was in Lafayette last week for UL’s football banquet but will be in Texas for the draft.

    Experts, though, do not expect Morgan to be drafted this weekend. ProFootballWeekly.com ranks Morgan as the 30th-best strong safety in the draft. NFLDraftScout.com ranks him the 53rd-best free safety available. On a 6.0 scale, SI.com gives Morgan a grade of 2.74, which equates to being an undrafted free agent.

    But Morgan is not concerned with his draft prospects. He knows former Cajun standouts Jake Delhomme (Saints, Panthers), Michael Adams (Cardinals) and Antwain Spann (Patriots) all earned NFL jobs after going undrafted. Morgan’s former UL teammate C.C. Brown started for Houston as a rookie in 2005 after being a sixth-round pick.

    "I’m worried about getting into minicamp and sticking on a roster," said Morgan, now up to 225 pounds. "After all the things I’ve been through my body feels good. I feel like I’m a freshman again.

    "Some guys want to get drafted. I just want a chance to play."

    NFLDraftScout.com analyst Rob Rang said Morgan has an outside chance of getting drafted.

    "He has nice size and that kind of size is good for a safety," Rang said. "He’s a big kid and moves well. At that size, teams at least have to be interested."

    Rang said former Cajuns Korey Raymond, Rodney Hardeway, Kyle Ward, Jarrett Jones and Jesse Newman will likely go undrafted.

    Bustle does not think that will be an issue for Morgan.

    "He’s a smart player and has the right attitude," Bustle said. "I think he deserves a shot. All he needs is to get his foot in the door."

  • Daily Advertiser, April 24, 2008