LOGAN, Utah – Stanley Morrison knows what he has. Morrison has lightning-quick speed and agility that made him the top receiving threat on one of the best offenses in the country in 2009. Morrison has a knack for making plays on the football field both with his pass-catching ability and his occasional passing threat, and Morrison is still playing the game he loves going into his senior season at Utah State this fall. Morrison also knows that he almost didn’t have any of those things following a left foot injury suffered during the summer of 2010. The injury cost Morrison the 2010 season and all of 2011’s spring football practices. The injury was severe enough that it’s only been recently that Morrison has again been fully functional with his foot. “It’s been a long road,” Morrison said. “It happened last summer, and I’m just now getting to where I can run full speed and get out there and do what I was doing before I got hurt. It’s a long road, but it was worth it.” Morrison was not alone in being marred by the injury bug in 2010 as he was joined by teammates and playmakers Robert Turbin, Michael Smith and Matt Austin in sitting out essentially the entire season. According to head coach Gary Andersen, that time lost to injury has given a new perspective to those players about their football careers. “I think they understand how fragile the environment that they live in is, and they’ve done a very nice job of coming back,” Andersen said of Morrison and Turbin in particular. “Typically when you have something that’s taken away from you that you love and you have the opportunity to get it back, you wrap your arms around it a little bit tighter and I think both of them have.” Still having the remainder of a football career ahead of him is something Morrison is grateful for, especially since it is something that he had to put on the shelf for a bit for the sake of his own well-being while he went through a lengthy rehabilitation process. “My focus was just getting my foot back into shape, getting back to full strength, getting it healthy and being able to even walk normal again,” Morrison said of the year of playing football that he was forced to lose. “When I put it all in perspective and I realized that because I’m going to have my foot for the rest of my life, football became second priority. Football’s not going to always be there.” Andersen credits Morrison’s character off the field as something that helped him, and maybe even was necessary in properly rehabbing his foot to have a chance to play again in 2011. “What I’ve seen out of Stanley is just being consistent on doing things the right way,” Andersen said. “Rehabbing a foot that was basically crushed and bringing it back takes a lot of discipline and a lot of consistent work ethic and effort.” Those qualities, along with a motivation to beat the odds stacked against him were what helped Morrison get back to the football field when fall camp opened for Utah State. “People say that this is an injury that people most likely don’t come back from, so I want to prove them wrong and come out here and play up to my best ability, which I think is at a very high level at this point,” Morrison said. Staying healthy is an obvious goal for Morrison for the upcoming 2011 season, but above and beyond that, he looks to both continue and build upon the experience and talent that netted him a team-leading 33 catches for 616 yards and three touchdowns in 2009. Seeing a football season from the sidelines rather than on the field taught Morrison some things that helped him improve. “Watching from afar isn’t always a bad deal,” Morrison said. “You can learn from watching from the side and probably get a different perspective on it.” Offensive coordinator Dave Baldwin knows that despite the loss of a few of his superstars for the 2010 season, their trials bring back a new sense of maturity and appreciation for the chance to be healthy again and step back onto the field. “I think they realize that it’s one play and you might never play again, so you better give it everything you have on the play and the opportunity that presents itself and then you can play,” Baldwin said. “There’s a maturity in knowing that one play is as important as any play.” The offense should feel the impact with the return of Morrison, Turbin, Smith and Austin, something Baldwin is looking forward to for the upcoming season. “It just makes it more fun for me to be able to call things because it’s no longer four yards, or it can be 15 yards, it could be a big play,” Baldwin said. “We’ll take four yards, but I think we’ve got the explosiveness with the backs now with Kerwynn Williams, Michael Smith and Robert Turbin to really be explosive. We’ve got the explosive receivers with Matt Austin and Stanley Morrison and those guys who will make plays for us.” Maturity, camaraderie, and perspective are all things that have Morrison hopeful for what 2011 holds for both his own performance and what he can do for the team as a whole. “Be the best,” Morrison said when asked of his main goal for this season. “Be the best at my position and help this team get as many wins as possible. As long as I’m doing what I need to do right and I have full confidence in the guys that are around me offensively and defensively to do what they need to do, I think we’re going to get it done.” -USU-
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