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September 15, 2010


By: Rachel Perreault

Davon Morgan

Watching senior leader Davon Morgan practice and play, there is never a dull or down moment. A student of the game, Morgan learns from his coaches and teammates while keeping the energy level high as often as possible. Many of those around Morgan on a daily basis are quick to note his positive spirit. It hasn’t been his experiences that have caused him to be this way. Rather it is his attitude and mindset that have allowed him to overcome and achieve all that he has. This same positive attitude is what has prepared him for the shoes he will fill as an experienced senior on a young squad after reclaiming a starting role that was his just two seasons ago.

Morgan came to Blacksburg from Varina High School in Richmond, Virginia, and earned a starting spot on the highly acclaimed Bud Foster defense by the start of his second season. In high school, Morgan excelled on both sides of the ball as a free safety and quarterback. Despite only being able to play in four games as a senior, Morgan was touted as one of the top players in not only the state, but also the country, coming out of high school. He finished his junior season with nine interceptions, 30 tackles and a fumble return for a score on defense.

He saw limited time on the field as a senior after breaking his leg early in the year. As deflating as it was, the injury wasn’t something that slowed him down as he prepared for the next level. With help from his high school coach, Morgan took the mishap as a lesson and used it to power himself through the situation and fuel himself for the next challenge ahead.

When Morgan arrived at Tech, he hung a picture in his locker. The picture came from Kevin Hollins, his former position coach at Varina. He put it up as an inspiration and a constant reminder. He knew he had to go out and compete – he couldn’t play scared of getting hurt again. He had to attack every challenge head on. A self-proclaimed motivational and positive person, the picture wasn’t necessarily something he needed to be reminded of.

But it didn’t hurt.

“The picture was of me falling, breaking my ankle,” Morgan said of the gift from his coach. “He made the picture and the words on the picture were ‘Anything can happen, at any given time. It doesn’t matter who you play, when you play, where you play; it’s how you play. Just remember to go out every day and live life like it’s your last and play every down like it’s your last because it could all change in one play.’ Every day, I looked at it and it just made me hungry. It made me want it. It made me want to come out here [the practice field] and get better, because if I took it for granted, this [his injury] is what could happen.”

The 6-foot, 198-pound converted rover earned the No. 2 spot at free safety as a true freshman, while also playing a starring role on special teams. Morgan finished his first collegiate season with 11 tackles, having played in all 14 games before making the position change during spring ball.

“We had a couple guys banged up,” recalled rovers coach Jim Cavanaugh. “We moved him over to rover so we could get another good player on the field. We didn’t want him playing behind somebody else when he could have been a starter at rover.”

Cavanaugh was impressed with Morgan’s play coming out of high school, as he was the one who recruited him. He remembers that, upon arrival, Morgan was a good athlete with good ball skills. A mobile, talented tackler, he arrived ready to learn and improve for the opportunity to compete.

Morgan continued to impress his coaches through spring ball and preseason, winning the starting job at rover entering his sophomore year. Things were going well for the second-year player. He was adapting well to his starting role with the help of experienced upperclassmen Macho Harris and Brandon Flowers. He said the players pushed him to get better, while also teaching him everything they could along the way.

Morgan followed the teachings of his peers and made an immediate impact as a starter. He tallied a then-personal best seven tackles against Georgia Tech in the third game of the season and neared that mark with six tackles and a key fumble recovery in the very next game against another ACC foe, North Carolina.

Unfortunately, the words on the inspirational picture in his locker became, once again, a little more real.

Davon Morgan started the final four games of last season and finished the year with 47 tackles, including 2.5 for a loss.

The following week Tech traveled to Nebraska, and Morgan, who was still regularly seeing time on special teams, suffered a torn ACL on a kickoff return. He went down and was forced to miss the remaining nine games of his sophomore season. Nearly two years after breaking his ankle, Morgan was back to square one.

“Coming down to the fifth game, when I got hurt, I realized everything happens for a reason,” Morgan recalled. “It kind of put me on pause for a minute. I wasn’t sure how things were going to go, with the injury and everything. I didn’t think about that too much, didn’t let it get the best of me. I kept working, I came to treatment every day and I came to practice every day, just to get my mental reps. Even though I couldn’t practice every day, I was actually out there watching and learning. I was just trying to get my mental part of the game right so that when I did get the opportunity to get back [on the field], everything would be second nature.”

From day one, Morgan’s family stressed the importance of school and graduating to have another route to travel. His family was also a large part of his recovery. They played a big role in keeping him motivated and focused with their support.

Morgan also drew inspiration from every single teammate simply due to the fact that they could go out and compete on the field and, at that time, he could not. Though it was hard to watch, he kept his head up with the goal of not only returning to the field, but also the starting lineup, in the front of his mind.

His preparation and commitment to the game paid off come springtime. Morgan remembers that he wasn’t supposed to be back in time for spring practices, but his positive attitude and love for football wouldn’t let him take any more time off. He said he told himself, “if I’ve got the strength to get up and walk around and run, then I’ve got the strength to play,” and with the approval of the medical staff, he jumped back onto the playing field.

Morgan admitted that one of the hardest things to overcome while being sidelined was the mental games that an injury can play, being unable to get out on the field and perform in a familiar, comfortable way. Though he experienced trouble getting the usual angles and tackles he was used to when he did return, he stayed focused, always reminding himself what a blessing it was to be able to play football and earn a scholarship. He quickly forced himself to trust his surgically repaired knee in time for his junior year, knowing this was the only way he could get back to where he needed and wanted to be.

Entering his third year, Morgan returned ready to play after “dinging” up his knee in the spring, but the offseason play was just what he needed to boost his confidence. His time away opened doors for other players to rise up, and because of that, Morgan had some work to do to regain his starting role.

Dorian Porch became Morgan’s replacement after he was injured, and he remained in the No. 1 spot to start the 2009 season. Though Morgan and Porch were splitting time through most of the year, he never put his head down or let anything delay his progress.

Morgan continued to improve throughout his junior season, so much so that when the Hokies embarked on a five-game winning streak at the end of the season, Coach Cavanaugh made the decision to start Morgan in the second game of the streak, giving him his first defensive start of the season at Maryland. Morgan’s productive play continued through the end of the season, much like his presence at the top of the depth chart, and he ended the year with his first career bowl game start in the Chick-fil-A Bowl against Tennessee. He finished the 2009 season with 47 tackles.

As one of five returning senior starters on this year’s squad, Morgan will be looked upon as a leader by the young players at his position and by the team as a whole. He knows what he has to do to remain in the position he is in and never misses an opportunity to learn something new. By spending most of his time with his teammates, watching film and studying offenses or techniques from other players, he makes every effort to improve his game and make himself better.

An aspiring coach, Morgan prepares himself like a student for the game he would one day like to teach. Having had great teachers and teammates before him as a young player on the team, he does his best to return the favor to his teammates. Morgan hits the field every practice and game with his current coaches’ thinking and teachings in mind to maintain their trust and confidence in him as he sets an example for those around him with his actions, words and attitude in his final season.