FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas first-team All-SEC senior linebacker Grant Morgan of Greenwood announced Christmas Day his Christmas present to the Razorbacks program.
The fifty-year senior announced Friday he’ll be a sixth-year senior for the Razorbacks season via this year’s NCAA decision because of the coronavirus pandemic’s disruptions to grant 2020 seniors 2021 athletic eligibility if they wish it.
“Merry Christmas!” Morgan posted Friday on Twitter. “I’m not done being a Hog. My work here is unfinished. The best is yet to come. 31 is back!”
Already a UA grad and married, Morgan defers his eventual goal of enrolling in medical school to play another year for the Razorbacks off a personally storybook 2020 season with still next Thursday’s Texas Bowl game in Houston against the TCU Horned Frogs to play.
Joining the Razorbacks as a 2016 redshirting walk-on under Bret Bielema, Morgan eventually earned a scholarship lettering as a reserve linebacker mostly behind All-SEC middle linebacker Scoota Harris (2017-2019) and also in the NFL weakside linebacker Dre Greenlaw (2017-2018) under Bielema in 2017 and Chad Morris in 2018 and 2019.
Morgan had never started a Razorbacks game until the 2020 Arkansas arrival of Head Coach Sam Pittman, defensive coordinator Barry Odom and linebackers coach Rion Rhoades.
Other than missing the season’s final game against Alabama from a knee injury that apparently has sufficiently healed for Morgan to say he will play in the bowl game, Morgan in nine starts helped, the Razorbacks, 1-7, 0-8 and 0-8 the preceding three years in the SEC, go 3-7 with an entirely SEC schedule that easily could have been 6-4 but for an egregious officiating error in the 30-28 loss at Auburn and a couple of tough breaks, including Morgan’s third-quarter injury, in the 50-48 loss at Missouri, and a 27-24 home loss to LSU.
For his part, Morgan led the SEC in tackles, with 111, and led Arkansas in tackles for losses (7.5) including two quarterback sacks, was credited with two quarterback hurries, broke up five passes and intercepted a pass in the 33-21 victory over Ole Miss that he returned for a game-sealing 23-yard touchdown.
Morgan became the first Razorback on defense to be named All-SEC first-team by both the SEC Coaches and media voting for the Associated Press team, since linebacker Martrell Spaight in 2014.
He was a semifinalist for the Butkus Award annually voted the nation’s best linebacker and is one of three finalists for the Burlsworth Award, named for the late Razorbacks All-American offensive guard Brandon Burlsworth of Harrison, annually voted to the nation’s best player beginning his career as a walk-on.
Pittman hopes Morgan won’t be returning for 2021 as a lone 2020 Razorbacks senior.
““I have at least four right now that I know are coming back,” Pittman said recently. “I don’t want to put that out there because I’m going to try to get them all to do it at the same time, to be honest with you. Then there’s another few that I’m going to talk to.”