LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - There were plenty of things that stood out to Erasmus Hall (Brooklyn, N.Y) rising senior cornerback Wayne Morgan during his time at Gridiron Kings. But one play in particular was one he’ll never forget.
“It was a post corner, we were in cover 2, and I broke on it,” he said. “I slapped the ball away. That wasn’t even my area, but I came in and made the play.”
Morgan is never afraid to venture out of his zone – one of the many reasons why he’s the lone New York representative at the 7-on-7 tournament held this weekend as part of the ESPN RISE Games at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World.
On the first day, Morgan had a rare lapse. In the first game against eventual champ Southwest, Morgan was badly beaten down the field by rising senior wideout Thomas Johnson of Skyline (Dallas, Texas) for a touchdown. Morgan stormed up to Johnson as if to confront him. Instead, he cracked a smile.
“Man, you really got me there,” Morgan said to his opponent. “You really got me turned around.”
Although Morgan was beaten on the play, he wasn’t held down for long. And on Sunday, Morgan helped his Midwest team shed an unfortunate label. The team had won just one game in three years of competition against collections of players from the Southeast, Southwest and West.
“The first three games, I feel like I played pretty well, but we didn’t do well overall as a team,” Morgan said.
The Southeast team, by contrast, had won the previous two Gridiron Kings championships and was unbeaten at 3-0 after this year’s pool stage. The Midwest, seeded fourth out of the four teams, drew the powerhouse team comprised mostly of players from Florida and Georgia.
But led by Morgan’s strong defensive play, the Midwest pulled off an improbable 18-14 win on Sunday and advanced to the finals before falling to Southwest, 29-13.
“We may have gone 0-3, but we were motivated,” he says. “We used (those losses) to motivate us. We came together. We were in the locker room talking (before the game) and we kept saying, ‘we can really make it to the championship, we can do it.’ And we believed in our words.”
Overall, Morgan says he really enjoyed taking part in the three-day event.
“This is so incredible just to be out here with the talent that I’m around,” he said. “It’s making me better as a player. We’ve been competing all weekend, and I was happy to lead my teammates to the championship game.”
Along the way, Morgan made plenty of new friends, and he had nicknames for all of them.
There was “T-Rich” or Cass Tech (Detroit, Mich.) rising senior corner Terry Richardson. There was “that quarterback who’s going to Michigan” who’s rising junior QB Shane Morris of De La Salle (Warren, Mich.). And there was “Cyrus” or rising senior Cyrus Jones of Gilman School (Baltimore, Md.).
Morgan wasn’t the only one dishing out monikers. His teammates had a name for him, too.
“They all call me Brooklyn,” he says. “I don’t even think they know my name is Wayne. And everyone loves Brooklyn. They always see Brooklyn movies and stuff. I love being from Brooklyn, and it was truly an honor just to be out here.”