MONTICELLO — With just under two weeks left until their season opener in Oklahoma, the Arkansas-Monticello Boll Weevils have found their starting quarterback.
Sophomore Colton Morrison, a transfer from Fort Scott Community College, was named the starting quarterback — beating out four other potential candidates.
“It feels great,” Morrison said after Wednesday’s practice. “It has been a lot of hard work and a lot of great competition.”
Morrison, who is 6 feet 7 inches tall, is originally from Oceanside, Calif., but spent his freshman year at Fort Scott CC in Kansas. In three games, he was 14 of 35 for 206 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
He said competing for the spot against players such as sophomore transfer Cody Trimble and freshman Brett Courville has “really pushed him.”
“Any type of competition makes you a better player,” Morrison said. “Definitely made a lot of strides from the spring to now.”
Morrison said his understanding of the offense has gotten better since the spring.
“Understanding where my hot (routes) are and where to go on certain types of plays depending on the coverage,” Morrison said. “Just a total understanding of the offense right now.”
UAM head coach Hud Jackson said picking Morrison as the starter depended on a combination of many different aspects.
“His completion percentage and decision making; holding on to the ball and not turning it over,” Jackson said. “There were a lot of things that were considered.
“Colton did a tremendous job through camp.”
Jackson said Trimble did a good job in camp as well, but it was there Morrison “really started to separate himself” from the others.
“At the scrimmage and the practices after there were areas he was able to improve on,” Jackson said. “We feel pretty good about our decision.”
After losing three quarterbacks to injury before the second week of the season last year, Jackson is not taking any chances this fall.
“It is like we tell the rest of them, ‘You better be ready,’” Jackson said. “With what we experienced last year, we don’t want to go through that again.
“Our guys know they need to be ready.”
Morrison does have about six inches on Trimble, but Jackson said Morrison’s height did not affect the decision-making process.
“That had nothing to do with it,” Jackson said. “I played quarterback in college and the decision to play me wasn’t because of my height.
“That is just a trait that he has. That just added on to the decision-making. There were a lot of other things considered other than his height.
“But it definitely doesn’t hurt.”
UAM finished the season 1-10 last year, so instead of trying to achieve any personal goals, Morrison said the biggest thing he hopes to accomplish this fall is just to win more games.
“I don’t really care much about the individual goals,” Morrison said. “Its all about wins this year.
“It’s all coach Jackson has been preaching. So I’m not focused on individual.
“I definitely want to try to win a conference championship this year.”
Morrison thinks UAM has the potential to do just that.
“We have a ton of new players that came in and some returners from last year,” Morrison said. “We are looking great.”
Jackson almost agrees.
“I think we are in a good place right now,” he said. “Hopefully as hard as our guys have been working, it will roll over to our game next week.”
Jackson said these next two days are going to be real important.
“After Friday’s practice, we need to feel pretty close,” Jackson said. “We need to feel like if we needed to tee it up on Saturday, we could.”
UAM will spend Thursday and Friday working heavily on its special teams.
“We really want to take a lot of time to make sure everybody understands where they are supposed to be,” Jackson said. “The different returns we have, the different covers we have and that everybody is good to go.”
UAM will have a dress rehearsal on Saturday beginning at 9 a.m.
“It is a day where we treat it like a game day,” Jackson said. “We will go through the pre-game stuff and make sure everybody knows who is supposed to be where.
“The next few days is just more for logistics and to make sure everybody realizes what units they’re on. Physically, I think we are ready, but for my well being, these next few days are going to be real important.”
UAM opens the season against East Central University at 6 p.m. Sept. 7 in Ada, Okla.
“We think we are an improved football team in all aspects and that is something we feel really good about,” Jackson said. “I don’t think there is anything that is sticking out right now.
“That first game will tell a whole lot more.”