The interest was there, but college programs just weren’t biting.
After spending two years on the varsity football team at Glenn, Desmond Morgan was caught in a waiting game. He was coming off an effective 2018 season as a defensive lineman, posting 17 tackles for losses and seven sacks. It was the second consecutive season the then 6-foot-2, 265-pound junior earned all-conference honors in the Central Piedmont 4-A as well.
Morgan received plenty of interest over those two years from Division I programs, including Navy, East Carolina, Miami (Ohio) and North Carolina among others. Scholarship offers, however, never materialized — at least, not for a while.
After that season, during which Glenn finished 6-7 and advanced to the second round of the NCHSAA Class 4-A playoffs, Morgan was a bystander for a flourishing recruitment journey for Jahvaree Ritzie, his rising junior teammate.
He watched as the defensive end, now rated as a 4-star prospect by 247Sports, received more than 10 scholarship offers beginning on Jan. 11. Duke, South Carolina, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest, Virginia, Virginia Tech — the list just kept growing.
Morgan, a defensive tackle, was forced to wait for his turn.
“It really taught me to be patient. They were all rolling in for him, and I wasn’t getting nothing,” said Morgan, now a rising senior. “Everyone just kept telling me, ‘Be patient. It’s coming.’ ”
That test of patience eventually paid off for Morgan, who has played football for only five years dating to his time in a youth league with the Winston-Salem Broncos. On July 21, the 16-year-old verbally committed to Charlotte over the weekend and plans to enroll in January 2020.
The 49ers on March 23 became the first team to offer Morgan. An offer from Western Carolina followed April 30. He received two in May from Wofford and Liberty. The last came in June from N.C. Central.
All five were a result of Morgan putting on about 25 pounds in the off-season. And Morgan had a simple system to get there.
“Really it was just being in the weight room,” said Morgan, who now weighs about 290 pounds.
“We’d have morning practices. So I’d get home and rest from the morning practice, eat something and then get in the gym to work out or get a run in — anything like that.
“It just kind of built up over my junior year.”
According to Coach Antwon Stevenson of Glenn, there was a reluctance for programs to extend offers to Morgan before he put on the weight. It turns out a 6-2 lineman, even with his ability, was a tough sell to schools at the FBS and FCS levels.
Stevenson said it was surprising that Morgan gained those 25 pounds and, at the same time, managed to stay athletic — another compelling reason why offers likely arrived when they did.
Morgan also noted he attended camps at several schools, including Virginia Tech, and was told he needed to “get bigger.”
“When you’re talking about a kid that was 6-1 and a half, 6-2 and 260 (pounds), that’s not really appealing for a lot of Division I schools,” Stevenson said. “It’s very appealing to Division IIs. But him going to camp and getting on the scale, and coaches seeing he’s at 285 or 290 and he’s able to move like this, it’s a no-brainer.”
It’s not the first time Morgan has seen a quick change to his physique. He entered high school in 2016, checking in around 5-8. Over the next two school years, he grew about six inches. Before the growth spurt, he weighed about 170 pounds.
A year on the JV football team in 2016 led to a starting role on the offensive line to kick off his sophomore season in 2017 — when the Bobcats finished at 10-2. He weighed 240 pounds then, and was training with then-senior linemen Hykeem Crockett and Bryson Glenn along with James McIntyre III, a junior linebacker at the time.
Morgan packed on muscle, though he said there was minimal interest from colleges. However, Morgan’s confidence was growing — the idea of playing on a larger stage became a reachable goal.
“It was more so people telling me, ‘You can do this if you put the work in’ and that my time would come eventually,” Morgan said. “I wasn’t getting recruited at all, so they were telling me to be patient because that’s ultimately not the position I play. So, when I got back to defensive tackle my junior year, that’s when things took off.”
Charlotte came into the picture in July 2018 when Morgan attended a camp held by the 49ers. He was primarily recruited by Keith Henry, who was on Brad Lambert’s staff before Lambert was fired in November of that year.
Will Healy was hired as Charlotte’s next head coach in December, and Marcus West took on the role as the co-defensive coordinator and defensive line coach in January. Despite the coaching change, the 49ers still wanted Morgan on their team.
The waiting game is behind Morgan now. A final season with the Bobcats is all that’s ahead, at least, in the near future.
“We’ve got a shot with the team we’ve got coming back,” Morgan said. “I’m just looking forward to playing with the guys, playing my last year and, hopefully, making a run for it.”