It took a while for Denham Springs High’s Alex Morrison to find a home to continue his playing career, and he’s fine with that.
The way he figures it, it’s just part of the territory for special teams players.
“It’s really late in the recruiting process, but that’s how it is with specialists,” Morrison, a long snapper who committed to Louisiana-Lafayette, said. “For specialists, it’s usually if you go somewhere, it’s either you’re committed at the very beginning of the recruiting process and you already know coaches, or it’s towards the end of the recruiting process and they just need a position and they just look for it.”
“ULL texted me, and they’re really excited, and I’m really excited too, because I get to go to school and play football, which is pretty awesome,” Morrison continued.
It’s also an exciting time for DSHS special teams coordinator Joe Ryan, who said Morrison is the first long snapper he’s coached to get a chance to play in college.
“It makes me very proud of the kid,” Ryan said. “Really, it’s a huge testament to his hard work. If said this one before too – you can bring a horse to water, can’t make him drink, and that’s kind of where he’s at. I can tell him all I want to tell him, but unless he goes out and puts in the work and does all that, it was really on him.”
Ryan said he liked what he saw from Morrison, who also played basketball and was a member of the track team at DSHS, early on. Ryan said Morrison played football as a freshman, decided not to play and then changed his mind early in his sophomore season.
“The first time I saw him do it, it was just kind of like, ‘man, this kid’s phenomenal’. He’s better than I’ve ever seen,” said Ryan, who played collegiately at Arkansas-Monticello. “Playing D-II ball, you see guys that do it, and they’re real good and this kid was right up there with them to where the reality of it was, ‘OK, he could probably at least play D-II’, which is still respectable. But then as it got on, his snaps got faster. He got faster. He got bigger. He spent more time in the weight room and all that.”
Ryan said that jump in Morrison’s ability came during the summer going into his junior season.
“He put in a lot of time on his own, whether it was snapping at home or going up to the school by himself,” Ryan said. “You always saw the kid out there trying to get better.”
Morrison said there’s a reason for that work ethic.
“You have to get coaching and practice a lot to be really good at snapping because all it is is repetition, repetition, repetition, and if you’re not good at repetition and repetition, you’re not that good at snapping,” Morrison said. “All you have to do is practice all the time and just get your form down, get stronger so you can snap it faster, and get faster so you can release downfield and maybe make a tackle.”
As a sophomore, Morrison attended a Kohl’s Kicking Camp in an effort to hone his craft and added more camps and clinics during his high school career, including the Senior Showcase at IMG Academy in Orlando, Fla., in January.
“With those specialist guys, a high school coach can only do so much, or know so much and do so much, so they find a lot of outside help,” Ryan said. “Really this year, he had very, very good snap times. He was consistently around a .67 on his snap-to-catch with the punter. He did a phenomenal job in getting his time down.”
Ryan said Morrison also helped him by attending clinics.
“I know a decent amount about long snapping and kicking,” Ryan said. “I’m more of a schematic special teams coordinator, I’d say, but him taking it to the next level and taking it upon himself to learn as much as he could, he taught me a lot. When you’re learning just as much from your players than you’re teaching them, it’s a recipe for success.”
Morrison is No. 4 in ProKicker.com’s long snapper rankings for the Class of 2020, but he said he couldn’t have gotten the offer from Louisiana-Lafayette without a little self-promotion, saying he got help from his sister, Emily, who filmed video of him training and posted it to YouTube.
“That’s one of the more important things about getting recruited as a specialist,” Morrison said. “You have to promote yourself – some sort of way to just get yourself out there.”
Ryan also said DSHS offensive line coach Jacob Fleming put together a recruitment portfolio for Morrison which was sent to over 400 schools.
“You can’t say that we didn’t try, you know?,” Ryan said.
“Most schools have two to three (long snappers), and it’s tough to get them placed,” Ryan said. “You really have to get your name out there and go to these camps these days and go to specialized coaches so they can help you get out there.”
Ryan said Morrison went on an unofficial visit to Louisiana Tech in February, and Arkansas began talking with him in the same month.
“I think they ended up signing somebody else,” Morrison said of Arkansas. “That’s why they stopped talking to me, but it happens.”
Things picked up with the Cajuns last week, when Cliff Anders, an instructor with ProKicker, put in a word for Morrison with the Louisiana-Lafayette coaches. Eventually, Morrison got in touch with Cajuns special teams coordinator Robby Discher.
“A lot of recruiting, they just come at you, they talk to you real nice and then they kind of drop off,” Morrison said, noting he got a look at the athletic facilities while attending a camp. “ULL, the coaches just came at me, and they just seemed like they really, really wanted me. I thought about going there before. It’s a really good school. It just really clicked since I started talking to them.”
Morrison plans on majoring in integrated biology/animal sciences and plans on becoming a veterinarian, and he said the Cajuns offer a great fit for his style of long-snapping.
“Some people, they want a big guy, but ULL, they’re snap and release,” Morrison said. “They want somebody that’s quick and can get down field. I think it’s just perfect.”
And no, Morrison doesn’t mind that he had to wait a bit before finding a school.
“All it did is give me more time to think about college and what I want to do with my education and just practice,” Morrison said.