Photo: Westbrook Christian senior John Ross Morgan signs a letter of intent last Wednesday (March 6) to play football and baseball at Birmingham Southern College. Pictured, sitting, from left: John Ross’ mom Holly, John Ross, John Ross’ dad Barry. Standing, from left: Westbrook Christian athletic director and head baseball coach Matt Kennedy, former Westbrook Christian head football coach Brian Mintz. (Chris McCarthy/Messenger)
By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor
From a young age, John Ross Morgan wanted to participate in college athletics. The only issue was which sport he would compete in.
On Wednesday, March 6, the Westbrook Christian senior signed a letter of intent to play both football and baseball at Div. III Birmingham Southern College.
Morgan planned on focusing on baseball in college until shortly after the Warriors’ final football game of the 2018 season in November.
“I wanted to keep playing football, so I started looking for a school where I could do both [sports]. At first, I wanted to play college football and then I wanted to play college baseball, and now I have the opportunity to do both. I first visited with the [BSC] football coaches, then I met with the baseball coaches. I really liked the school and the campus and the facilities.”
The 2018 BSC football team finished 6-4 overall and 4-4 in Southern Athletic Association action. The baseball team went 22-18 last season.
Morgan realizes the challenge of balancing his academics with two sports.
“It will be difficult and a lot of work but I think I can do it. I’m looking forward to it.”
Starting at fullback, Morgan gained 558 yards and scored eight touchdowns last season as the Warriors went 7-4 and made the Class 2A state playoffs for the second year in a row. He also caught 14 passes for 245 yards. His blocking was no small factor in halfback Hunter Grimes’ 1,362 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns.
“John Ross was a physical player who embraced the fullback position,” said former Westbrook Christian head football coach Brian Mintz. “I thought he had a great year. In what we did offensively, the blocks of the fullbacks were as critical as any for our running game. John Ross has got the size and ability to play college ball, and I think he’ll do well.”
As a first baseman in baseball, Morgan helped the 2018 Warriors post a 27-9 record, win an area championship and qualify for a berth in the Class 2A state quarterfinals, where Westbrook lost in extra innings in the deciding game 3 against top-ranked Mars Hill Bible.
“John Ross brings power to the lineup and has given us stability at first base the past few seasons,” said Westbrook Christian athletic director and head baseball coach Matt Kennedy. “He’s been a huge contributor to our success the last few years. Especially with us only having two seniors this year, he’s been thrown into more of a leadership position, and he’s done a tremendous job of taking on that role. He’s a guy that stays after practice and does the necessary things he needs to do to be a better player. To me, those are the kind of things that will carry you through those tough days in college.”