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USU football: Injured Stanley Morrison beats the odds, will start vs. Auburn

Published August 25, 2011 2:50 pm

USU football • Receiver recovers from career-threatening foot injury last year.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Logan • At 5-foot-9 and 160 pounds, Stanley Morrison was always told he was too small in stature to play Division I football.

But Morrison wouldn't have it any other way.

If he were any bigger, his career would probably be over. That's how devastating it was last summer when Morrison broke his foot in a freak diving board accident.

"The doctors told me that if I had 50 more pounds, I wouldn't be able to play football again," Morrison said. "Even at my size, they really didn't give me that much of a chance."

Robert Turbin had his knee injury. Matt Austin tore his patella tendon, and Levi Koskan ripped his knee up. All three are back and healthy. But aside from Turbin, Morrison may have been the guy Utah State missed the most on offense.

In 2009, Morrison developed into a versatile threat at slot receiver. He caught the ball deep. He was a possession receiver. He ran the ball on slot sweeps, and he was the designated quarterback on trick plays.

Without him last season, the Aggie offense sputtered. It simply wasn't the same. And now, with him back in the fold, USU has a chance to open its playbook again.

"We need people like Stanley to make a difference this year," Gary Andersen said. "He hasn't gotten a lot of reps in camp, but that's because we know what he can do. This week we're going to give him and Matt [Austin] more reps. We have to get those guys up to speed."

As recently as this past spring, offensive coordinator Dave Baldwin said that Morrison was unlikely to develop into more than a 20-plays-per-game guy, so debilitating was his injury. But Morrison is the Aggies' No. 1 slot receiver in the initial preseason depth chart released last week, ahead of players like Kerwynn Williams and Xavier Martin, who both stood out for Utah State last season.

Morrison had very real doubts about his future after breaking his foot, but when he lines up against Auburn in less than two weeks, he will have beaten the odds. He will be playing football again.

"Everyone said that he was never going to play again," Turbin said. "They said his career was over. What he's done has been amazing."

Youth served in secondary

USU's secondary will go as far as Nevin Lawson takes it. The Aggie defense is banking on the sophomore cornerback's development into a shutdown-type corner who can take away one side of the field in man coverage. He's tabbed as Utah State's top cornerback, and he will be a guy who comes off the edge in blitz packages.

"I think I'm ready for what the coaches need," Lawson said. "It's all a matter of playing hard."

QB still a mystery

Don't expect a starting quarterback to be named before the Auburn game, Andersen said. Both Chuckie Keeton and Adam Kennedy are still splitting the first-team snaps. The USU coach says he pretty much knows who will get the start but does not want to tip his hand before the season opener.

"I would like Auburn to have to prepare for both quarterbacks," Andersen said.

It appeared last week that Keeton had the edge, based on his lack of turnovers.

Andersen said it was possible that both QBs would play against Auburn.

tjones@sltrib.com

Twitter: @tonyaggieville