Catawba football: Morman enjoys career game

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 14, 2009

By Mike London
A hobbled Eric Morman tied Brent Johnson’s Catawba record for receptions in a game Saturday.
Morman’s 13 catches for 128 yards would have represented a banner day for a healthy player. For a wounded wideout with a bum ankle, his performance was remarkable.
“Eric is very mentally tough,” Catawba coach Chip Hester said. “He doesn’t care if he’s missing a finger. He’ll still say he’s all right.”
Morman, a sophomore, suffered the injury Thursday when the Indians were working on special teams in preparation for their trip to Carson-Newman.
“On Friday, I couldn’t run at all,” Morman said. “Almost up to gametime on Saturday, I was limping around, but I guess then the adrenaline sort of kicked in.”
Shortly after quarterback Cam Sexton left the game with an injury, Morman caught a 12-yard TD pass from Patrick Dennis to finish a second-quarter drive that gave Catawba a 10-7 lead. The rest of the day, Morman pulled in chain-moving passes from Dennis and helped the Indians stay in the hunt in a shootout they eventually lost 41-31.
“We kept running the same route combo over and over, and they weren’t adjusting to it,” Dennis said. “Eric is a steady guy for us. He’s not a roller-coaster player. He’s not up and down, all over the place. He pays attention to detail, runs the right routes.”
With 21 catches for 228 yards on the season, Morman leads the team in receptions. Brandon Bunn leads in TD catches with eight, while Gerron Bryant leads with 441 yards. That’s a good group.
Morman is a product of 4A powerhouse Richmond County Senior High in Rockingham, a school that also produced Catawba guard Kemp McSween and defensive back Terrence Jones.
Morman followed his older brother, Charles, who was a star wearing the green and gold of Richmond’s Raiders.
Eric Morman, a pitcher/outfielder, was at least as good in baseball as he was in football, but he paid his dues on the gridiron, finally working his way up to special-teams action as a junior and a full-time starting role for the first time as a senior.
“I played on offense and defense some, but in a game we played against Jack Britt, George Bell ended my career on defense,” Morman said with a laugh. “I tried to tackle him on a kickoff. That didn’t work out.”
Richmond was 25-2 in Morman’s two years on varsity. Morman wasn’t big, but his speed and versatility and Richmond’s high profile drew recruiting interest from Elon, Wingate, Campbell and Newberry.Catawba assistant John Fitz still had an easy time landing him because Charles Morman was finishing up a stellar career as a starting DB for Catawba. Eric was proud and eager to follow his brother a second time.
“I went to all the Catawba games to watch Charles, so I feel like I’ve already been at Catawba seven years,” Eric said. “When Coach (Matt) Barrett tells a story about a game, I always know what he’s talking about. I was there.”
Morman redshirted at Catawba in 2007, a season in which Bell joined the Indians after transferring from Virginia Tech and teamed with the pass-catch combo of QB Brad Roach and Johnson to lead the Indians to a wild 55-49 win at Carson-Newman. That’s the game in which Johnson set the record Morman tied.
He made a meaningful contribution in 2008 as a redshirt freshman, starting seven games, catching 17 passes and producing TDs against Livingstone, Mars Hill and Tusculum.
This year didn’t start brilliantly. Morman dropped multiple passes, including a sure touchdown, in the Livingstone game.
“I wish I could take that game back because the boys joke around with me about it all the time,” he said. “I just dropped that ball. Nothing I can do about it now.”
Dennis didn’t lose confidence in Morman. Neither did the coaches, and he redeemed himself with his huge game against one of the nation’s stronger D-II squads.
Charles Morman, now a teacher and coach at Lexington High, was at Carson-Newman to watch his little brother and must have been overwhelmed with pride. That Eric Morman did what he did while hurting was storybook stuff, but Mormans have beaten long odds before.
In 1991, a pitcher named Alvin Morman was drafted out of Wingate by the Houston Astros in the 39th round with the 1,015th overall selection. Thirty-ninth round picks aren’t supposed to make the majors, but Morman did. He relieved in 176 games in the big leagues for the Astros, Indians, Giants and Royals.
Alvin, another former Richmond County Raider, is a cousin of Eric and Charles. Hester isn’t touting the latest Morman (6-1, 185) as a future pro, but he is confident his best days lie ahead.
“Eric is a classic late-bloomer,” Hester said. “He’s good now, and we’re very fortunate we’re going to have him around for a while.”