Photo by John S. Peterson
Nebraska Football

A Salute to 'Officer Stan'

December 2, 2018
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Stanley Morgan Jr. wore a sweatshirt with “WRLDINVSN” across the front to a late-season football news conference. I don’t remember much of what Morgan said that day; I have the transcript. But I do remember the sweatshirt, or at least the eight capital letters on the front.

“WRLDINVSN” is a clothing brand based in New Orleans. Nicholas Clark and Marlon Watts started the brand when they were 14-years-old. Check out the company’s website for their fascinating history.

Watts and Morgan were teammates at St. Augustine High School, both wide receivers. Morgan was a junior when Watts was a senior. Watts went on to play at Louisiana Tech.

Anyway, the point here is Morgan was representing his home by wearing the sweatshirt that day, like the “504” he wore on the front of his helmet this season, the New Orleans area code.

John S. Peterson
Stanley Morgan Jr. on the sidelines at Iowa in 2018, his final game as a Husker.

All of the Huskers wore area codes on the fronts of their helmets, of course, as a way of representing their hometowns, or cities. Scott Frost allowed the same thing at Central Florida.

It’s important to remember where you come from.

Morgan was a second-team All-Big Ten selection by both the conference coaches and conference media. He should’ve been first-team, in my opinion.

Maybe I should say biased opinion, though I’ve voted on such things – still do – and have always tried to separate the personal from the logical or statistical.

That can be difficult when you’re around a team on a regular, if not daily, basis, something I’ve learned over the 41 years I’ve covered Nebraska athletics. Consider football, for example; I’m there for the Monday news conferences as well as most post-practice interviews, so I’m familiar with the players and coaches. That familiarity is magnified over the time they’re here.

These days I’m more of an observer than a beat writer or someone who handles recruiting and gets to know the student-athletes and their families before they get to campus. Nevertheless, I’m familiar with the Huskers to the point of seeing them as people not just players – which is how I see those on opposing teams, except on rare occasions. They also have moms and dads, brothers and sisters, classes to attend and weights to lift. But I don’t usually know much about those things.

I know Morgan is “The Kid.” He’s @Thekidstan on Twitter. But to me he’s “Officer Stan,” has been since his freshman year, a nickname given to him by then-receivers coach Keith Williams for his blocking ability, developed in high school against older players, among them Leonard Fournette.

Morgan blocked defenders as if he were arresting them according to Williams, who coached at Tulane for three seasons and recruited Morgan for the Green Wave. Hence the nickname.

His freshman season, “Officer Stan” worked his way into a rotation with juniors Jordan Westerkamp, Brandon Reilly and Alonzo Moore, who also was from Louisiana (Winnfield), as was tight end Cethan Carter (Metairie). Talk in the receivers’ room then was of “ranches” and “tinkers.”

MORE: How Morgan got to Nebraska, and why he came back for his senior year

Morgan finished third in receptions that season, with 25 for 304 yards and three touchdowns. In the next three seasons, he would catch 164 more passes for 2,443 yards and 19 touchdowns. His career receptions (189) and receiving yards (2,747) are school records. His 22 touchdowns are tied for second.

Morgan caught 70 passes for 1,004 yards and seven touchdowns this season. The receptions are a record for a Husker wide receiver (Marlon Lucky holds the record, 75, regardless of position) as are the 1,004 receiving yards; Morgan is the first Husker to officially reach 1,000 in a season.

Purdue’s Rondale Moore was a first-team All-Big Ten wide receiver according to both coaches and media, and there’s no arguing that point. He caught 103 passes for 1,164 yards and 12 touchdowns to earn recognition as the conference receiver of the year, as well as conference freshman of the year, recognition that might well have gone to Nebraska’s Adrian Martinez instead.

A case also could be made for Martinez deserving more than honorable mention all-conference from the coaches and not even that from the media. Check the numbers. But that’s a discussion for another column. The subject here is Morgan, who was behind Ohio State’s Parris Campbell as the second wide receiver on the coaches’ team and Minnesota’s Tyler Johnson on the media team.

Statistically, the three are comparable. Campbell had the advantage, playing for a pass-heavy team. Dwayne Haskins threw 455 passes, so there was more opportunity for catches. Also, Morgan wasn’t necessarily the first read for Martinez, who threw 347 passes. JD Spielman, who was sidelined the final two games with injury, caught 66 passes for 818 yards and eight touchdowns. He earned third-team recognition from both coaches and media, as he should have.

As for the other first-team spot, I think “Officer Stan” should be there, probably because I’ve been around “The Kid” for four years and appreciated how he has conducted himself.

He was a captain, so obviously he has been a good teammate, and though he didn’t do a lot of interviews, when he did, he came across as gracious, never forgetting where he came from.

Earlier this season, Morgan attended a Monday press conference wearing a Toronto Raptors cap, a surprise considering New Orleans has the Pelicans. Afterward, I asked if he were a Raptors fan or just liked the hat. He said he liked the Raptors, as well as the hat. 

The day he wore the WRLDINVSN sweatshirt, as he was leaving, I asked if he still liked the Raptors. 

He did, he said.

Then, quickly changing the subject, “Officer Stan” said, “How ‘bout those Saints?” 

 
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