Record-setting day is ‘overwhelming’ for Husker senior Stanley Morgan
IOWA CITY — Stanley Morgan could have blamed the steady rain coming down. But no, he really was bawling his eyes out.
Not because Nebraska lost 31-28 to Iowa on a field goal at the horn. Not even because it was his last game as a college football player. Emotions flowed from the 6-foot-1, 200-pound New Orleans native because he finally reached a school record he’d been chasing for two years.
Captain Morgan is now also Mr. 1,000.
That’s 1,000 receiving yards in a season, the first Nebraska player to reach that plateau. Morgan came close last season, when he ended with 986. He needed 77 for the milestone Friday and finished with 81 on seven catches to conclude with 1,004.
“I’ve never been the first ever to do, I don’t think, a lot of things,” Morgan said. “Because I’m a junior. My dad’s a senior, so I’ve never been the first Stanley Morgan. But it’s a blessing. It’s overwhelming and I’m very proud of it.”
Morgan could have left Nebraska — then in the midst of a coaching transition — after his breakout junior campaign. But he said Friday he never had any intentions of departing — “Just throwing the hype in there,” he said with a grin — and knew he made the right decision immediately after returning to campus in the summer.
“Stanley is one of those special guys I hope I keep in touch with for the rest of my life,” Nebraska coach Scott Frost said. “He’s a warrior. He’s always ready to compete.”
On Friday, Morgan also took over NU’s all-time record for receiving yards from Kenny Bell (2,689) by ending with 2,747. He caught a pass for a 38th straight game, passing Johnny Rodgers’ previous best mark of 37. Morgan’s 70 receptions in 2018 also are second on the single-season charts while his career catches (189) are a new Husker high.
The funny thing, Morgan said, is these numbers won’t last long. Just look at sophomore receiver JD Spielman. Just look at this Frost offense.
Spielman sat out a second straight week Friday with a foot injury despite going through warmups. He is already climbing Nebraska’s career charts in receiving yards (seventh, 1,684) and career receptions (eighth, 121). Morgan said his good friend will be on top soon enough.
“He’s gonna break (the records), c’mon now,” Morgan said. “I get to hold these up for a year, but I always got first to get it. So I always got that on him.”
Morgan doesn’t know who will take over his role as the main “X” receiver. He lists Kade Warner, Mike Williams and Jaron Woodyard as possibilities. Maybe it’s someone not on the roster yet. But he believes what made him a better player under Frost was how the offense allowed him to become more consistently involved and, because of that, a leader.
Morgan knew he reached 1,000 when he corralled a 13-yard pass as Nebraska drove for the tying score in the fourth quarter. It’s amazing, he said, how the new staff has had an effect on his game after years in a pro-style system.
“Just the attention to detail, these coaches’ schemes,” Morgan said. “We scheme so good. They know exactly where they want to go with the ball, know exactly what they want to do with it. These coaches are real good.”
Morgan will go home for a while, he said, then tackle the NFL. He’ll take online classes for one more semester before he can graduate with a major in child, youth and family studies along with a minor in criminal justice.
“I’m gonna finish,” Morgan said with a firm smile.
He’ll do so having reached uncharted territory for any Husker outside of Johnny Rodgers’ 1,013 receiving yards in 1972 (bowl games didn’t count toward a player’s total then). To teammates, he leaves as a leader and friend. To fans and recruits, he’s a symbol of the possibilities for 2019 and beyond.
“He’s gonna fight to the end with you and the best thing about Stan is he’s always going to be in a good mood and loves the game and has fun doing what he’s doing,” Frost said. “He’s been a great Husker and this place will miss him.”