FIU Quarterback James Morgan shines in Shrine Bowl

The East-West Shrine Bowl turned out to be a stupendous showcase of offensive fireworks.

Starting with FIU quarterback James Morgan, who began the game by leading the East team to two touchdown drives en route to a 31-27 win over the West team on Saturday at Tropicana Field.

Morgan started the weekend being honored with the Pat Tillman Award, which is presented to a player, “Who best exemplifies character, intelligence, sportsmanship and service. The award is about a student-athlete’s achievements and conduct, both on and off the field.”

“It was really a nice week,” said Morgan. “I just wanted to come in, work as hard I could, learn as much as possible and go out and compete. It was quite an experience.”

Morgan completed 9-of-14 passes for a game high 116 yards and a touchdown while splitting time with Princeton’s Kevin Davidson and Mississippi State’s Tommy Stevens. It’s an impressive stat line considering he only had a week to mesh with a seemingly random collection of college seniors.

Morgan said before the game that the experience gained from playing in these collegiate all-star games is “extremely valuable” in terms of preparing him for the NFL Draft because he’s coming from a small program and got to throw to and against players from big name programs.

Morgan emphasized work ethic and leadership as qualities that make him a quarterback worth choosing in the draft. There are other quarterback prospects with bigger names and better tangibles with higher upside but NFL teams have approached him with the mindset that he is a prospect that can come into a huddle and lead like a field general.

“I’m absolutely in love with the game of football.” Morgan said. “I have been ever since I was a little kid. I’m going to work my tail off and as much as I can to help an organization win games. And when I come in, I’m going to lead by example.”

While it sounds like he’s angling to be the next Tom Brady, the NFL quarterback that served as his greatest source of inspiration was Brett Favre because he grew up in Wisconsin during the Hall of Fame’s career as a Green Bay Packer.

Morgan split his collegiate career between Bowling Green and FIU. Two of the Panthers’ three straight bowl seasons came with Morgan as the starting quarterback. His senior year and career may be forever defined by when he led FIU to their first ever win over the Miami Hurricanes at the site of the old iconic Orange Bowl.

”I just really believed in myself,” Morgan said. “The NFL was always a dream and this is one step closer.”

Morgan said he will have his pro day on April 1 at FIU.

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