Part Three a Three-Part Series
ELIZABETH, N.J. (AP) _ The pursuit of Dulayne Morgan is over.
In two weeks, on Feb. 3, national letter of intent day, the outside linebacker from Elizabeth High School, considered one of the nation’s top high school recruits, will sign with Syracuse University.
″It came down to where I felt most comfortable,″ Morgan said. ″I talked with everybody in my family over the holidays, my brothers, my parents. We decided Syracuse would be the best place for me. It’s a nice school, close to home. And it has the academics I want.″
By the time Syracuse played Colorado in the Fiesta Bowl, Morgan had made his decision. He watched the game, but without the excitement you might expect from a player who had just decided to sign up. ″I watched as a fan,″ he said. ″I watched Florida State in the Orange Bowl, too. I’m a fan.″
A lot went into the decision-making process, which began with 100 schools, including Notre Dame and UCLA, after him. Morgan took visits to Florida State and North Carolina as well as Syracuse. Another was scheduled for Tennessee, but postponed when he became ill. It was never rescheduled. ″I had seen enough,″ Morgan decided.
The visits were integral to the decision. At Florida State and North Carolina, he was the only recruit on campus on the particular weekends he was there. At Syracuse, he was one of a number of players visiting.
He was ushered around the other campuses by high profile varsity players. At Syracuse, his host was redshirt freshman tackle Shelton Prescott of Paterson, N.J., a town not far from Elizabeth.
″I think it gave me a better look at the school to be with him,″ Morgan said. ″I got the view not from a superstar, but from a guy from this area who’s going through his freshman year, just like I’ll be doing. It’s different for an all-star.″
Then there was the matter of academics. Morgan wants to be a pre-med student, and recognizing the demands of that kind of program, he insisted on a five-year scholarship. ″That was my first priority,″ he said. Schools that balked at that requirement were eliminated.
When coach Paul Pasqualoni visited the linebacker’s home, he outlined the average day for a football player at SU.
″There’s a mandatory breakfast for players and they check classes during the day. They know who they have to check on. He said that before you get to practice, they know who was in class and who wasn’t. That seemed logical to me. It’s an orderly system. I liked that.
″I was impressed with the coaches, but I went for more than the coaches. I went for the whole program.″
He is the only Elizabeth player headed for Syracuse. He took his visit to North Carolina with teammate Shon Hart, a wide receiver. His closest friend on the team, inside linebacker Jeron Alston, was recruited by such schools as Massachusetts, Virginia Tech, James Madison and Temple.
″The schools that recruited me did not recruit him, and the schools that recruited him did not recruit me,″ Morgan shrugged. ″It’s disappointing in a way. We’re such good friends. You hope you’ll wind up at the same school. It didn’t work out. We’ll still stay in touch. You’ve got to go home sooner or later. You make other friends.″
He already has. During his visit at Syracuse, he met Keith Downing, a quarterback from Rochester. ″I think he’s committed,″ Morgan said. ″He wants to be pre-med, too.″
It sounded like roommates in the making. Morgan said he wouldn’t mind.
After the signing, Morgan will complete his studies at Elizabeth and then report to Syracuse in August for training camp.
″I’m glad it’s over,″ he said. ″I’m looking forward to getting there.″