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Jeff Sentell/DawgNation
MJ Morris is a very mature young QB prospect now at Pace Academy in Atlanta.

MJ Morris: Nation’s No. 3 dual-threat QB shares updated view on his recruiting process

Want to attack every day with the latest UGA football recruiting info? That’s what the Intel brings. This entry details a recent conversation with new Pace Academy QB MJ Morris. Morris ranks as the nation’s No. 3 dual-threat QB prospect for 2022. 

Gunner Stockton committed to South Carolina last Thursday. Did that make Pace Academy’s MJ Morris the clear QB priority for the Bulldogs in 2022?

Stockton ranks as the nation’s No. 1 dual-threat QB prospect (247Sports Composite rankings) for that cycle. That same listing places Morris as the No. 3 dual-threat. He is also an in-state target. There might be a long-standing assumption that Georgia will intensify its efforts to secure the nation’s No. 52 overall prospect into the class.

Well, that’s not exactly it. There are two other top 125 overall in-state QBs in the 2022 cycle aside from Stockton and Morris. Valdosta’s Jacurri Brown is a very intriguing prospect.

There’s a lot of figuring out to do on the recruiting trail. For starters, Morris very recently told DawgNation he still has a lot of research left with his process. He made it clear his commitment timeline would likely extend past his junior season at Pace Academy.

MJ Morris said it feels “special” to be back home playing for Pace Academy. He went to middle school at Pace. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

The global pandemic has certainly stalled out his discovery process over the last six months on that front.

He did tell DawgNation back in the spring that first-year offensive coordinator Todd Monken was speaking to him more frequently. He’s felt like more of a priority for the Bulldogs during their weekly Saturday chats.

“I wouldn’t say that I have always felt that way,” Morris said. “I’ve always felt like they have been recruiting me highly. I feel like they have been on me pretty hard. But I feel like now that [Stockton] committed to South Carolina I feel like they will definitely bring up the pressure a little bit and I would love that.”

“I would love to play for coach [Todd] Monken. I’ve been in contact with him once or twice a week. We’ve just been chopping it up. Going over defenses. Just talking about life in general. I’ve built a great relationship with him. I feel like Georgia will definitely bring up the pressure a little bit on me now that [Gunner] is committed.”

But he hasn’t been told by Georgia that he’s “the guy” for the class.

“If that conversation happens, then it happens,” Morris said. “But I am not really looking for it. If it does, then I guess I am their No. 1 guy. I am just blessed right now to be one of the top recruits for them in the first place.”

Morris just turned 17 in late June, but he always comes across with a maturity beyond his age. He shared his views on social equality and race relations in America earlier this year with DawgNation. 

“Coach Monken and coach [Kirby] Smart have said that they have a lot of interest and they love me a lot,” Morris said. “They would love to have me there. Like if I were to commit right now, they would immediately take it and they would love that. That’s come up in our conversations.”

MJ Morris ranks as the nation’s No. 3 dual-threat QB for 2022 on the 247Sports Composite ratings. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

MJ Morris: The Homecoming season for him this fall

Morris transferred from Carrollton to Pace Academy over the summer. But that shouldn’t necessarily be viewed like most of the traffic pattern for the nation’s elite QB these days.

He was a former ballboy at Pace and went to middle school there. He was around the 2015 state championship team while he was still in middle school. That’s when future Bulldogs Trey Blount and Andrew Thomas were juniors. Junior tackle Jamaree Salyer was just a sophomore back then.

He had some kind words for the program he left behind at Carrollton.

“It was hard leaving Carrollton,” he said. “I had great friends there. Great relationships within the whole team there. The whole school. I loved everyone there. They all loved me. But here it just feels special. Not just great. I just feel happy and genuine around here.”

Morris said it sunk it when he trotted back out to the practice field for the first time.

“It was like at the first practice I got to out here right before school,” Morris said. “I kind of walked onto the field and I saw all my teammates smiles and everything said to myself ‘this was where I needed to be’ and ‘this is my place’ and it just made me feel so good on the inside.”

“Just being back here feels so good. You’re seeing the guys from sixth, seventh and eighth grade and their smiles. It felt like I had never left, but I had not been here with them for so long. It was just great to be back. It really has been amazing.”

Pace coach Chris Slade was an All-American at Virginia who spent nine years in the NFL. He sees something more in Morris than just his ability to spin a football.

“Just having him on campus and in the building just brings a light and a lot of life to the program,” Slade said. “Not because he’s such a great player but because he’s just a great kid. He has what I would call a good air and a great presence around him which translates very well to the other guys on our team.”

Morris adds mobility and size. He is very thick from the waist down. He’s now above the 6-foot-2 mark and probably 200-205 pounds.

“Just a humble kid who takes coaching very well,” Slade said. “I said this about Jamaree [Salyer] and it already applies to MJ as well. When your best player allows you to coach him, it is so much easier for the rest of the guys to fall into place. He was that way in middle school as a very good player, too.”

“He’s still the same kid as then. Just that he’s bigger now. Still humble. Still coachable. Still thinking about our team first.”

Did you know the weekly DawgNation.com “Before the Hedges” program is now available as an Apple podcast? Click to check it out and download it.

MJ Morris-Georgia recruiting-UGA recruiting
MJ Morris doesn’t plan on making his college decision anytime soon. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

The key pieces of the recruiting picture for MJ Morris

Morris is now at a school that doesn’t allow for mid-year graduation. So it means the earliest he would report to a college campus would be in June of 2022.

It means he is about 21 months away from beginning to compete for a college job. That would allow for some natural separation between an early enrollee QB commit set to enroll in the class of 2021.

Georgia pledge Brock Vandagriff, for example, is set to report to UGA in a little less than four and a half months. What would it mean if the Bulldogs did tell Morris he was their target at QB until he told them he was headed elsewhere?

Morris felt it would “mean quite a lot” but what also readily came to mind was what he still needs to do.

“I wouldn’t say it would move up my timeline,” he said. “I’m still going to take everything slowly. My family and I talked about it and we are probably not going to make a decision until next year. We still haven’t visited a lot of places due to the coronavirus and everything has gotten shut down.”

Morris values loyalty. That’s why Missouri is a low-key school that most do not realize has a legit shot while recruiting him. Tigers coach Eli Drinkwitz will always have the distinction of extending his first scholarship offer.

That came when he was the head coach at Appalachian State.

“I’ve been in touch with coach Drinkwitz for a long time,”  Morris said. “We’ve always had that relationship. When he got the job at Mizzou, he had called my coach and then I called him. He told me he wants me and he says I am his guy. So we’ve been in contact. I’ve been in contact with him and the whole offensive staff there. We’re in contact about once or twice per week. We’ve built a great relationship.”

Stanford hasn’t offered yet. But that is another school to look at.

“I love their vibe,” Morris said. “We’ve been in touch via Zoom and we did a Zoom tour around their campus. I just love their vibe over there.”

He said it is not hard to decipher which schools are recruiting him the hardest at this time. He can just tell It revolves around their sincerity.

“I would say the schools that have been recruiting me the hardest are definitely Georgia, Florida State, Florida, Alabama, Penn State, Michigan, Mizzou, Nebraska and Stanford,” he said.

Morris feels that next summer would be “his most realistic goal” of a decision timeframe. That will run counter to a few high-profile decisions. Check out the status for the top-rated QBs for 2022.

  • 5-star pro-style Quinn Ewers/No. 2 overall prospect (committed to Texas on Aug. 14)
  • 5-star dual-threat Gunner Stockton/No. 24 overall (chose South Carolina on Aug. 20)
  • 5-star pro-style Maalik Murphy/No. 28 overall (Undecided)
  • 4-star dual-threat Ty Simpson/No. 37 overall (Undecided)
  • 4-star dual-threat MJ Morris/No. 52 overall (Undecided)

See those first two names at the top? Morris is aware of that forming trend. And yet….

“I don’t want to rush anything because a lot of college coaches have already been telling me that,” Morris said. “Now that a couple of high-profile kids have already committed in my class, a lot of other kids will start committing early as well to get their spots.”

“I don’t want to take that route. I want to make sure I pick the right place for me. I don’t want to go to a school and end up not liking it or thinking about transferring the whole time I am there. I want to go to a place where I don’t have to think about transferring. I can just be there and love that place. That is going to make me play my best football while I’m there.”

He said he had no reservations about the depth chart at Georgia. His answer there will be the same as it was after 5-star Brock Vandagriff committed in the 2021 class. It is now the same after former 5-star JT Daniels just transferred in with three seasons of eligibility remaining on his NCAA clock.

“I’ve been looking at it,” he said. “I know they have really good depth at the quarterback position right now. But I feel like if Georgia is the place for me, then I am going to go in there and compete because I know that nobody is going to outwork me as far as off the field or on the field. I am going to compete to get that No. 1 job. I don’t care if you are a senior or a guy who has been starting since he was a freshman. I am going to compete to beat you out.”

He’s picked up some good recent advice from other high-profile QBs and their families who have been through the recruiting process. It was simple: Don’t rush it.

He doesn’t plan to.

The other thing he learned was to place himself around coaches and QB coaches and coordinators who have a history of sending their pupils to the NFL.

“That’s probably then a good place for a quarterback to be,” Morris said. “That’s being coached by guys who already have a track record of developing quarterbacks for the NFL.”

MJ Morris-Georgia recruiting-UGA recruiting
MJ Morris always knows to value the relationship with a head coach at a program above all others. That’s because he is the most likely coach to be there during his time at their program. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

 A very tasty scouting report on MJ Morris

Jayden Thomas is one of the nation’s top receivers in the 2021 class. He holds an offer from Georgia. The Bulldogs also hold a place among his final five schools.

There is also a loaded cupboard of impressive young wideouts now behind Thomas at Pace. This offense could easily throw for 3,500-4,000 yards this season.

When Morris was on his way to Pace, he called Thomas first.

“It is great playing with my little bro again now,” Thomas said at a recent Pace practice. “We’ve been playing with each other since we were 10 or 11 years old. It is crazy that we are at the same high school team playing together again.”

What will Morris give the Knights this fall?

MJ Morris is the junior quarterback on the left here. Jayden Thomas is the senior WR to the right. Could they both wind up at Georgia? (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

“Just that arm and he’s just a dual-threat,” Thomas said. “He’s the best running threat and a running QB that I have ever seen in person. Ever since I saw him as a kid, he’s always had that ability to make plays out of nothing whether escaping to scramble out of the pocket or just throwing a bomb in a place where the receiver can go up and get it. That’s what I love about being a receiver for him.”

Those two have a fun vibe. Morris threw a JV touchdown to Thomas back when he was a freshman. Morris has always been a grade behind Thomas.

It goes back to when Morris was the fourth-grade slinging the rock around in practice. That team already had a quarterback. Well, until he saw Morris.

He wanted to share another juicy scouting tidbit on Morris. It involves football games played with sticks. That would be the sticks on a video game controller and that household name video game franchise.

“He stinks at Madden,” Thomas said. “He’s a 2-star Madden player. I want everybody to know he is a 2-star player at Madden. He is not good.”

“I can read him like a book. Just like that.”

Morris will debate that opinion. But is a good thing he spends more time in the film room that logging on to Madden every day.

Check out the impressive junior film for Morris below:

SENTELL’S INTEL

(the recent reads on DawgNation.com)

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