West High multi-sport star Marcus Morgan stays fresh by staying busy year-round

Marcus Morgan pitches against Liberty High School on Monday at Banks Field. Photo by Jeff Yoder

By Pat Harty

IOWA CITY, Iowa – At some point, Marcus Morgan will have to pick a sport to play long term, but why hurry?

Why rush what doesn’t have to be rushed?

And why should Morgan limit himself in high school when he seems more than capable of handling the many challenges of playing four sports?

From football in the fall to basketball in the winter to track and field in the spring to baseball in the summer, the 6-foot-2 Morgan is getting the most out of high school from an athletic standpoint.

He doesn’t have a favorite sport at this time, but he just finished his sophomore year at Iowa City West High School, so again, there is no hurry to pick one.

“Whatever’s in season,” Morgan said of his favorite sport. “Whatever is working.”

Morgan’s focus right now is on baseball where he is a talented right-handed pitcher with a nasty slider and curve ball, a deceptive change-up and a powerful fastball that approaches 90 miles per hour.

He allowed just three hits and fanned 12 over six innings in a 6-4 victory over Iowa City Liberty on Monday. West High was leading 6-1 when Morgan was removed from the game with no outs in the seventh inning due to a growing pitch count.

West High baseball coach Charlie Stumpff said Morgan already is approaching the level that former West High pitcher Nick Gallagher reached near the end of his high school career. Gallagher would go on to pitch for Iowa and he now pitches for the Cleveland Indians Class A team after having been selected in the 16th round of the 2017 amateur draft.

"He is, like I said last year, approaching as a freshman and sophomore where Gallagher finished off, because the velocity is there and he's got the breaking ball like Gallagher had," Stumpff said of Morgan. "It's the dangest thing; I always have to ask the pitching coach who's calling it, is it a curve or a change-up? Because it moves so much. It's not a normal change-up because it's kind of sinking away. It looks like a curveball."

In football, Morgan is a dual-threat quarterback and already has a scholarship offer from Iowa State. He also starts at shooting guard for the West High basketball team, and was a state medalist in the high jump in track and field this past season.

“It keeps me fresh,” Morgan said of playing multiple sports.

It also keeps him active, keeps him around his friends and keeps him on the recruiting radar in multiple sports.

Morgan has Division I potential in at least three sports, and he still has two high school seasons left in football and in basketball, and almost three full seasons left in baseball.

There is so much focus on the destination when really the journey in high school is what probably should matter the most because the journey is a once-in-a-lifetime experience filled with lessons that will be beneficial later in life.

There is nothing wrong with specializing in one sport, but there is also no proof that playing multiple sports in high school hurts your ability to reach your potential in one specific sport.

Morgan could also play two sports in college, with football and baseball being a manageable setup since their seasons don’t overlap.

West High graduate Connor McCaffery is playing both basketball and baseball for the University Iowa, but he faces some big challenges due to those two seasons overlapping in college.

“He’s a special young man when it comes to baseball and we’ll see where he gets to,” Stumpff of Morgan, who is the son of former Iowa basketball player Michael Morgan and the younger brother of former Northern Iowa basketball player Jeremy Morgan. “I hope some of the coaches out there, like in football, would think about letting him do both.

“It’s a very much more doable thing for a pitcher it seems to me than what Connor tried to do this year. That’s real hard. But as a pitcher, you can get your work in and he can throw strikes coming out his bed no problem.”

Morgan is also being recruited by Iowa in football, but hasn't been offered a scholarship at this point. 

To say that Morgan is busy this summer would be an understatement.

“Really busy,” Morgan said.

Stumpff joked with Morgan after Monday’s victory over Liberty that his star pitcher still has time to go fishing despite being so busy.

Morgan is dividing his time this summer between high school basketball activities, seven-on-seven football camps, weight lifting and a full baseball season.

Much of that requires just being a kid, but there is also a serious side to it.

It now seems apparent that sports will have a major impact on Morgan’s life after high school, but that stuff will work itself out over time.

And right now, time is on Marcus Morgan’s side.