After verbally committing to play for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish on Jan. 4, inside linebacker Nyles Morgan made his college choice official by signing his letter of intent to play in South Bend, according to Pat Disabato of the SouthtownStar:
Congrats to Crete-Monee LB Nyles Morgan on committing to Notre Dame. Fighting Irish landed themselves a heck of a player and person.— Pat Disabato (@disabato) January 5, 2014
Morgan is among the most coveted defensive recruits in the class of 2014, as 247Sports' composite rankings have the 4-star prospect No. 53 overall and No. 3 at the inside linebacker position.
Brian Kelly summed up Morgan well via Notre Dame's student newspaper The Observer:
Kelly on LB Nyles Morgan (@Obey_Pride): “That’s what a Mike linebacker looks like."— Observer Sports (@ObserverSports) February 5, 2014
According to Keith Arnold of NBC Sports' Inside the Irish, Morgan announced at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl that he would attend Notre Dame. Morgan made mention of the hole that currently resides in the middle of Notre Dame's defense during his announcement.
"They do need a mike linebacker, so I'm going to come in and fill that role," Morgan said.
Despite Morgan's verbal commitment, there were no guarantees that he would honor it. Plenty of top recruits have changed their minds throughout this process, so there is no such thing as a done deal until pen is put to paper.
Morgan generated interest from many of the top teams in the nation in addition to the Irish, including Florida, Ole Miss, Alabama and more, per 247Sports.
It's easy to see why, based on his incredible production at Crete-Monee High School in Crete, Ill. Morgan racked up at least 100 tackles in each season from 2011 through 2013, along with 10 sacks, three interceptions and five forced fumbles over that time frame.
In addition to his on-field production, Disabato raved about Morgan's character when he made his initial commitment:
Getting Nic Weishar and Nyles Morgan, Notre Dame is not only getting two talented players, but two exceptional young men. #raisedright— Pat Disabato (@disabato) January 5, 2014
Character is often overlooked during the college football recruiting process because there is so much emphasis on winning, but Morgan appears to be the type of player who will excel both on and off the field at the collegiate level. In other words, he figures to be an ideal student-athlete.
At the same time, there are some concerns about Morgan from an on-field perspective. At 6'1" and 225 pounds, he is a bit undersized at inside linebacker. That didn't stop him from producing in high school and it may not stop him in college either, but he'll be faced with bigger, stronger and better blockers.
Also, most smaller linebackers tend to be fast and dynamic, but 247Sports lists Morgan's 40-yard-dash time at just 4.79 seconds. The site also rates him a seven on a scale of 10 in terms of athleticism and a six when it comes to playing in space, so he could potentially struggle to adapt to the collegiate game.
How will Morgan fare at the collegiate level?
Instincts and a high motor were enough to make Morgan an elite player in high school, but it remains to be seen if that will continue to be the case. Less athletic linebackers than Morgan have thrived in major college football and the NFL, so it certainly isn't outside the realm of possibility that Morgan will follow in their footsteps.
Plenty of top programs saw something in Morgan throughout the recruiting process, and he clearly has some intangible qualities that will help him along the way. Morgan seemingly has the will and desire to succeed, so hopefully his physical development will catch up as well.
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