VANCOUVER — While gaining an invitation to the New York Giants rookie mini-camp offers UBC Thunderbirds’ receiver Alex Morrison no guarantee of an NFL future, recent history has shown that his particular destination packs a ton of karma in the pursuit of a professional football career.
Two years ago, Simon Fraser receiver Lemar Durant (Coquitlam-Centennial) and Calgary Dinos’ offensive lineman Sukh Chungh (PoCo-Terry Fox) both attended Giants’ rookie mini-camp and have since gone on to become promising and productive CFL players with the Stampeders and Blue Bombers respectively.
Morrison, who will head off to N.Y. Giants camp on May 11, could also hear his name called this Sunday during the CFL draft.
And being a prospect on the radar of both leagues is a fitting reward for a player who reached the pinnacle of the Canadian collegiate game in 2015, but saw it all come to a premature end during a nightmarish 2016 campaign.
“It’s very gratifying,” Morrison told GoThunderbirds.ca of an opportunity that comes after both helping the ‘Birds win the Vanier Cup as a third-year player, then having this past season end after just two weeks when he suffered a broken arm .
“It was devastating to have a season cut short, especially after a national championship and not being able to be there for my teammates and help us win,” the Sault St. Marie (Ont.) native explained. “I put in a lot of work in the rehab centre, in the gym and at home to give myself the best opportunity to get back and exceed the level I was at in 2015. I’m so thankful to have this opportunity and I’m looking forward to next weekend.”
A 6-foot-4, 220-pound receiver, Morrison burst onto the scene at UBC with an amazing freshman season under then-head coach Shawn Olson.
UBC football has gained a vastly larger scope following its national title win under then-first-year head coach Blake Nill in 2015, so much so that Morrison’s rookie season is rarely talked about.
Yet he came to the Point Grey campus in 2013 out the Sault Sabrecats program and promptly led the team in all-purpose yardage, amassing 1,194 yards (No. 3 in the conference) in eight games with 679 yards coming off kick-off returns, and 424 off punt returns.
Included in his kick-off return totals was a memorable 102-yard touchdown.
“It’s a justifiable reward for a young man who overcame a very tough, season ending injury in 2016,” said Nill.
For Morrison, who kept his head up and worked hard to put himself in a position to keep his pro football aspirations on track, not a lot will change about his process when he heads to Giants’ camp.
“It’s obviously a bigger stage than what I’ve experienced so far in my life,” he said, “but it all boils down to the same thing of competing and preparing myself to the best of my ability. It’s obviously a great opportunity to be able to compete for a great organization. I just very thankful and can’t wait to get there and compete.”
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