Name: Antonio Morrison
High School: Bolingbrook (Bolingbrook, IL)
Status: Verbally committed to Florida
The talk during this particular recruiting cycle has been that the Gators will take three or four linebackers. On Wednesday, they got their third with the commitment of Bolingbrook (Bolingbrook, IL) inside – or outside depending on which recruiting service you prefer – linebacker Antonio Morrison. Along with Lorenzo Phillips and Jeremi Powell, Morrison brings depth and a bright future to the position.
(THIS VIDEO CONTAINS LANGUAGE! The type that might offend you. Or it might not. But you’ve been warned.)
Morrison is a strong linebacker (more on that later) that can finish tackles on his own. Looking at his numbers above, you’ll see that he isn’t small, but he also isn’t big. He has good size for someone going into his senior year of high school, but is far from enormous. I bring this up because of his strength. He packs a lot of punch into that frame. Morrison routinely takes down ball carriers without help. He is a textbook tackler and knows what he needs to do to bring a runner down. He doesn’t try anything fancy, but instead hits the ball carrier in the midsection, wraps him up, and takes him to the ground. Morrison really does make it look as simple as it should when it comes to routine tackles.
His strength that doesn’t have anything to do with his physical strength is the way he plays the run. Most clips you’ll find of Morrison have him making plays in the run game and for good reason. He plays the run extremely well using his field vision to map out the play before it fully develops. Morrison appears to pick up blocking schemes almost instantly after the snap and due to that gets to the hole before the ball carrier. This is where his tackling ability is useful allowing him to singlehandedly make plays consistently.
What will come up frequently concerning Morrison from this point forward is what position he’ll play. Similar to someone like Jelani Jenkins, Morrison really could play the inside or the outside. This is beneficial to his future with the Gators if the plan is to alternate between the 4-3 and 3-4 for years to come. On video, you can see that Morrison looks comfortable wherever he lines up. With a rotation of linebackers and roles in the defense at Florida, that may have been a big plus in his recruitment. It will be some time before we find out for sure where he plays, but it may not really matter. What matters at the moment is that Morrison fits into the Gators’ plans.
For fun (and, as I promised, more on that strength thing), here’s Morrison lifting a lot of weight.
UPDATE: Scout has reclassified Morrison as an inside linebacker and ranks him as the no. 16 MLB in the country.