Morris makes Clarion his choice

Published Feb 11, 2014 at 3:05 pm (Updated Feb 11, 2014 at 3:05 pm)

Zack Morris knows that Clarion University launched the professional careers of former NFL guard Reggie Wells of South Park and Olympic gold medalist and Total Nonstop Action wrestler Kurt Angle of Mt. Lebanon. But the Upper St. Clair senior wanted to become a Golden Eagle and delay his career plans simply because he has a passion for the gridiron.

“I wanted to play football,” said the 18-year-old son of Lisa Morris.

The 6-0, 280-pound lineman has that chance now that he has committed to Clarion, an NCAA Division II program that competes in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference. Morris picked the Golden Eagles over Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Capital, Marietta and Waynesburg.

“After my official visit, Clarion seemed like the right decision. I loved the campus and the atmosphere there.”

And, Jay Foster and his coaching staff loved Morris, who excelled on both sides of the line at USC. He earned first-team, all-conference honors at guard for the Panthers, who finished 11-1 in 2013.

“(Zack) was the strongest kid on our team,” said head coach Jim Render. “He’s a friendly kid but on game nights, he had a nasty streak that coaches love. His aggressive play was one of the reasons why we were successful.”

Morris helped USC claim a third straight Southeastern Conference. He also paved a Path for the Panthers to rush for nearly 3,000 yards and also produce a 1,500-yard passer. Defensively, USC posted six shutouts and surrendered only 94 points.

Clarion has penciled Morris in at center or guard and that pleases him. “I prefer offense,” he said. “I feel I am better at offense than I am on defense.”

Morris says that he will have to get “bigger and stronger” in order to make the jump from high school football to the college game. The increase in bulk and strength will also bode well for Morris once his playing days are over. He plans to major in criminal justice. He aspires to become a police officer.

“I’m not afraid of the danger,” he said. “I’ve always been interested in that.”

Acknowledging that he could go straight to the police academy, he added, “but, I wanted to play football.”

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