MINNEAPOLIS - P.J. Fleck didn’t leave much doubt in an interview with 247Sports late last week. He thinks University of Minnesota quarterback Tanner Morgan has a future in the NFL.
There’s a chance it could come as early as the 2021 NFL Draft. But right now, any talk of a pro future is on hold as Morgan and his family deal with some adversity while at home in Union, Ky., during the Coronavirus pandemic. Tanner’s father, Ted Morgan, posted on social media that he had a stroke over the weekend and had to be hospitalized.
He is now home recovering, and will need to have a procedure done in a few weeks.
“I want to thank everyone for the overwhelming response to prayer. It is so humbling Gopher Nation is the Best!! I am home right now and feel great. Within a few weeks I have to get an apparent basic thing removed. We will keep Believing, Rowing, and Fighting,” Ted Morgan posted on Twitter.
Back on the football side of things, Fleck told 247Sports last week “the sky is the limit for him.”
“He’s got intangibles through the roof. He’s so gifted on and off the field, he’s one of the best leaders I’ve ever seen. He makes everyone else around him better, and he’s the most genuine person you’ll ever meet,” Fleck said. “He’s the most fierce competitor we have on our team.”
In his first full season as a starter, Morgan was selected Second Team All-Big Ten. He set school records in passing yards (3,253), touchdown passes (30), completion percentage (66.0) and passing yards per game (250.2).
Morgan was also one of the most efficient passers in the country in 2019, earning a 178.7 pass efficiency rating, also a school record. Morgan’s 278 yards passing in the Outback Bowl was also a school record for a bowl game. He also set an NCAA record for completion percentage after going 21-of-22 for 396 yards and four touchdowns in a 38-31 win at Purdue to open the Big Ten season. It’s the highest completion percentage in an FBS game where at least 13 passes were attempted.
His season numbers were on the same path as Joe Burrow, Jalen Hurts and Justin Fields. Burrow was the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft, Hurts was a second round pick and Fields could be in the NFL Draft next April. So, for that matter, could Morgan if he takes his game and the Gophers to the next level in the 2020 season, if and when it starts.
The Gophers have not had a quarterback selected in the NFL Draft since Craig Curry went to the Miami Dolphins in the eighth round in 1972.
“You’re talking about draftability, it just depends on as he keeps going forward the success he has and who falls in love with him. Somebody will, I mean we haven’t had a quarterback drafted since the 70s,” Fleck said. He has the potential to be the first one for sure, without a doubt, and a high pick.”
Morgan has proven he’s not afraid of the spotlight. Some of his best games have come on the biggest stage in college football, and in the process put the Gophers on the map in the College Football Playoff conversation. He threw for 339 yards and three touchdowns in Minnesota’s historic win over Penn State at TCF Bank Stadium.
Against one of the better defenses in the country in the Outback Bowl, Morgan overcame an early interception to throw for 278 yards and two scores in a 31-24 win over Auburn. The victory capped off the Gophers’ best season in 115 years.
He’s made the most of his opportunity, which happened after Zack Annexstad went down with a foot injury during fall camp last season. It could lead to an NFL future.
“If people look past where he’s at technically and his size and strictly look at who makes their team the best and if you get the results at the end of the day, absolutely he’d be up there,” Fleck said.