His 6-foot-3, strong-armed quarterback named Alec Morris has all the tools. Why isn’t he ranked among the nation’s elite?
Morris was rated a 3-star prospect on the 5-star scale used by the major recruiting services. Rivals.com ranked him the 30th-best quarterback in the country while Scout said he was No. 37. Only a few schools offered scholarships.
After he first committed to Wake Forest, Alabama entered the picture. Morris changed his pledge to the Tide in August and will sign as the only quarterback in Alabama’s class Wednesday.
“Once he gets there and people see him, they’ll figure out why we couldn’t figure out why he didn’t have more offers,” Westerberg said.
So Morris was undervalued in the recruiting process?
“I know he is,” Westerberg said. “He’ll be playing at Alabama and I wouldn’t doubt he’ll be playing past that at the next level.”
Scott Kennedy, the director of scouting for Scout.com, said the class of 2012 wasn’t “a strong year for quarterbacks.”
“It was Jameis Winston or bust for me,” he said, referencing the Hueytown quarterback committed to Florida State. “You see Alec Morris here, he’s serviceable. Alabama hasn’t needed to have Andrew Luck, Matt Barkley or Matt Stafford out there to win. So field generals are good.”
Quarterbacking one of the premier programs for two seasons in football-crazy Texas is Morris’ first credential. Allen reportedly spent $60 million building an 18,000-seat stadium that’ll be finished by this fall. It will outclass most small college venues.
But Morris will be in Tuscaloosa by then. And he’ll face a challenge similar to another quarterback from suburban Dallas who never topped recruiting charts.
That’s partially why Westerberg arranged a phone call between Greg McElroy and Morris before the Alabama commitment was made last summer.
“We’ve brought it up a little bit and I think they both come from very successful programs,” Westerberg said. “I don’t know if they’re similar kids. Greg is not quite as big as Alec is and Alec probably has a little bit of a stronger arm. But the smartness is probably comparable.”
At 6-3, 235 pounds, Morris can throw the ball 65-plus yards, his high school coach said. He can also play under pressure.
After breezing to a few weeks of his senior season, Morris faced deficits in each of the last six or seven games of the season, Westerberg said. Allen won them all until falling to fellow-power Euless Trinity in a playoff game played in Cowboy Stadium. Morris had a shot to tie the game but was stopped short on fourth-and-goal in the closing moments of the 28-21 loss.
Morris drove the Eagles into position for that last chance, just as he did four weeks earlier against Marcus High. Trailing by four with 1:40 left, Morris led his team on an 80-yard scoring drive capped with a 16-yard touchdown pass in the closing seconds.
Though he led a spread offense in high school, Westerberg said Morris fits the mold of pro-style quarterbacks Alabama prefers. Call them game managers if you please, but Westerberg knows the importance of a strong arm in any offensive scheme.
“You can use all those terms you want to use,” he said, “But when the national championship game was on the line, they had to throw the ball. And that’s what they did.”
Michael Caagrande covers University of Alabama sports for The Star. Follow him on Twitter @RollTide_Star