In the 2019 season, Tanner Morgan took a big step forward as quarterback for the Gopher football team. In addition to setting a slew of program records, Morgan led the Gophers to an 11-2 record last season and capped it off with a win in the Outback Bowl.
But Gophers head coach P.J. Fleck believes there's another step to Morgan's game and thinks he could be the program's first drafted quarterback since 1972.
"He’s so gifted on and off the field," Fleck said in an interview with 247Sports. "If there’s one guy outworking everyone else in the country, it’s that guy. I can’t say that for a fact, but if I had to bet everything I have on that, I would."
Fleck believes that Morgan profiles in the same way as his quarterback at Western Michigan, Zach Terrell. Terrell went 1-11 as a starter during his freshman year, but ultimately went 13-1 in his senior season and led the Broncos to the MAC Championship.
Morgan's growing pains weren't as dramatic, but Fleck sees the same path to success.
"[Morgan] came in, won some games, lost some games," Fleck said. "He wasn’t even the starter right away with Zack Annexstad and basically never gave the job back and now he’s All-Big Ten. I think the sky is the limit for him."
Morgan's 2019 season was a breakthrough, ranking fourth in the nation with a 178.7 passer efficiency rating. Out of the three players ahead of him, LSU's Joe Burrow and Oklahoma's Jalen Hurts were high picks in this year's NFL Draft and Ohio State's Justin Fields is expected to be a high pick in next year's draft.
If Morgan has another strong year, he could be on team's radars entering next season, but also will have limitations because of his six-foot-two height.
"Is he ever going to be [six-foot-five]? No, but who cares?" Fleck said. "Drew Brees isn’t [six-foot-five] either. Now am I saying he’s Drew Brees? No. But he’s somebody that’s going to be put in a Drew Brees category. There’s a lot of people that couldn’t look past his measurables, [but] he’s got intangibles through the roof."
If Morgan were to be drafted, he would be the first Gopher quarterback to be selected since the Miami Dolphins selected Craig Curry in the 1972 NFL Draft. Fleck believes that not only will Morgan break that record, he'll also be a high pick.
"It just depends on as he keeps going forward, the success he has, and then who falls in love with him," Fleck said. "But somebody will. We haven’t had a quarterback drafted since the 70s. He has the potential to be the first one for sure."