Alex Morrison’s junior season was much shorter than expected.
In Week 2 of 2018, the defensive back tore his ACL in a loss to Aldine Davis.
Losing a year of football was the bad news. The good news was Morrison valued the game much more as his senior year at Conroe approached.
“Coming off an injury last year with the torn ACL, I have a chip the size of Texas on my shoulder,” Morrison said Monday. “Every game, every practice, I don’t take it for granted because this game can be taken away from you at any time. I just come with that mindset every day and try to prove myself every day to college recruiters, my teammates, my coaches with that mentality.”
In Conroe’s 58-55 win at Klein Cain on Saturday, Morrison intercepted a pass, forced a fumble and returned a failed PAT attempt for two points. For his efforts, the senior was voted The Courier’s Player of the Week.
Morrison received 47 percent of the nearly 500 votes cast online. Splendora freshman kicker Kevin Luna got 22 percent and the other five nominees combined for the remaining 31 percent.
The Player of the Week win was the third in a row for Conroe. Players can only win the award once per season.
Quarterback Christian Pack, who has thrown for 1,331 yards, 16 touchdowns and five interceptions this season, won in Week 3. Michael Phoenix, who has 764 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns this season, won in Week 4. Both Phoenix and Pack lead District 15-6A at their respective positions and the Tigers’ offense ranks second behind Klein Cain.
Conroe second-year coach Cedric Hardeman is glad to see his players getting recognized, but channeled Alabama coach Nick Saban and Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts while saying the recognition can’t go to their heads.
“It’s good that the community and administration is supporting us,” Hardeman said. “It can be rat poison. One of the things we talk about here is keeping our circle tight and keeping the main thing the main thing. If we do that, then I think we’ll be fine. I like it for the kids and I think it’s good for these kids to get some notoriety. That’s not the endgame for us, though. We have some more things we need to accomplish.”
Morrison posted a clip of his one-handed interception against Klein Cain on Twitter on Sunday morning. In the replies, an 11-year NFL vet chimed in with, ‘So proud of you man.’
Antonio Cromartie had 31 interceptions and 116 passes defensed in his NFL career, which ended in 2016. Last January, he and Morrison connected through Twitter.
One day, Morrison was watching Cromartie highlights on YouTube when he got a text from someone claiming to be Cromartie.
“I called him and didn’t even believe it was him, so we FaceTimed too,” Morrison recalled. “I was just a fanboy at that point. I’m so blessed and so thankful for him.”
Morrison trained with Cromartie and trainer Kentez Porter throughout the offseason and says Cromartie still breaks down his film and sends words of encouragement before practices and games.
“Growing up as a kid I used to watch him, play with him on Madden, everything,” Morrison said. “Now I’m training with him and he’s mentoring me. All the knowledge he’s given me — about the game, off the field, real life stuff — I think that’s just what separates him from other trainers. I’m just so thankful for him.”
According to 247sports, the senior safety holds offers from Abilene Christian, Air Force, Lamar, Liberty and Navy. Part of his attention and success is rooted in the preparation he gets during practice at Conroe, often going up against Phoenix.
“Every day in practice I go against the best receiver in the district and the competition is just crazy,” Morrison said. “It’s him making me a better defensive back and I’m making him a better receiver. It’s great for each other.”
The Tigers rebounded and got a win in Week 5 after falling to Klein Oak in Week 4. Though Morrison forced two turnovers and scored a couple points on special teams, Hardeman says the senior won’t focus on that as Conroe turns to Klein and Week 6.
“One of things I like about Alex is for him, the expectations are high,” Hardeman said. “Even in a game like (Saturday) where he’s excited about being able to make plays, I know he’s thinking about the plays he needs to make and didn’t make. That’s what makes Alex Alex.”