Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2013 | 2 a.m.
Locals expected to sign Wednesday — class of 2013
- Devonte Boyd, WR, 6-1, 175, Basic High (UNLV)
- Lorenzo Fertitta Jr., CB, 5-9, 170, Bishop Gorman High (Villanova)
- Elijah George, OL, 6-5, 250, Arbor View High (Oregon)
- Niko Kapeli, RB, 5-8, 205, Liberty High (UNLV)
- Tyler Morris, ATH, 6-2, 205, Foothill High (San Diego State)
- Kai Nacua, LB, 6-1, 195, Liberty High (BYU)
- Trajan Pili, DL, 6-1, 215, Centennial High (BYU)
- Donnel Pumphrey, RB, 5-9, 170, Canyon Springs High (San Diego State)
- Randy Ricks, LB, 6-4, 215, Legacy High (San Diego State)
- Marcus Williams-Sanders, RB, 5-11, 205, Durango High (Utah)
- Jake Smirk, DL, 6-2, 240, Bishop Gorman High (Dartmouth)
- Ryan Smith, WR, 5-7, 170, Bishop Gorman High (Duke)
- Anu Solomon, QB, 6-1, 200, Bishop Gorman High (Arizona)
- Robert Stanley , LB, 6-3, 220, Bishop Gorman High (Fresno State)
- Justin Sweet, CB, 5-10, 170, Bishop Gorman High (Colorado State)
- Jamir Tillman, WR, 6-2, 205, Bishop Gorman High (Navy)
He’s 6-foot-3 and 205 pounds with room to grow and runs a 4.5-second 40-yard dash — a rare combination of size and speed.
But for Falcons coach Marty Redmond, those measurables only half describe what makes him so valuable. After Morris broke his right ankle in early September, cutting short his senior season after one game, he could have easily sulked in disappointment.
Instead, Morris remained an important part of the program in helping teammates prepare for the next week, becoming a fixture on the sidelines (often sporting a San Diego State hat) for practices and games. He also didn’t stop working in the weight room, adding much strength to his upper body in preparation for his next football challenge.
That challenge will become official Wednesday on national signing day when Morris signs a letter of intent with San Diego State. He is one of 15 athletes from Southern Nevada, including three for the Aztecs, expected to sign. Two — Basic wide receiver Devonte Boyd and Liberty running back Niko Kapeli — are committed to sign with hometown UNLV.
“It was a pretty tough road for him, but he still did a good job trying to be a team leader,” Redmond said. “Anytime you lose someone as talented as Tyler, it will have an impact in every facet of the game. With that height and speed, he was such a big threat for us. Teams would have to double him and that would open things up for other people.”
Foothill was expected to compete for the Southeast League title but finished with just three wins. In addition to Morris, the Falcons suffered injuries to junior quarterback Drew Doxtator, another college recruit, and all of their projected starting linebackers.
Replacing Morris, a three-star recruit on the rivals.com scale of five evaluating stars, proved to be impossible because of his versatility. Morris was recruited as an athlete by San Diego State and can play either linebacker or safety defensively, or wide receiver on offense. At Foothill, he was also the punter.
“It was tough sitting and watching, especially when it’s your senior year and you are supposed to be a big part of the team,” said Morris, who in his lone game in 2012 caught five passes for 56 yards and a touchdown and recorded eight tackles. “Going and watching was tough, but I learned from it. It’s going to make me a better player.”
While the timing of the injury — he was hurt playing basketball in weight-training class — seemed tragic because it ended his final high school season, it could have been worse. Recruiting interest for injured athletes always dips, but Morris had committed to San Diego State last May and the Aztecs honored their scholarship offer.
“With Tyler, you know what you are going to get,” Redmond said. “He plays hard and at full speed all of the time. Everything he does is at full speed. It doesn’t matter what you ask him to do, he does it at full speed.”
Morris, who in 2011 caught 25 passes for 515 yards and eight touchdowns, was an under-the-radar prospect until last April when he posted a 4.5-second time in the 40-yard dash. Morris’ recruiting had just started to spike when he committed, but he fell immediately in love with everything about San Diego State during an unofficial trip and didn’t see any reason to wait.
“(Committing early) ended up being a good thing seeing how I got hurt my senior year,” he said. “It was just the whole package at San Diego State. I could see myself going there, having a good time, a successful career and receiving a good education.”
Verbal commitments are nonbinding until Wednesday’s national signing day. Until a letter of intent is received, college coaches aren’t allowed to comment on recruits.