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Thursday, July 31, 1997

Air Force duty grounds Cowboys quarterback

By CHIP BROWN / Associated Press Writer

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Jason Garrett thought he was seeing double.

The backup quarterback spotted former Air Force quarterback Beau Morgan - a wiry, undrafted rookie free agent with braces - throwing passes during one of the Dallas Cowboys' spring workouts.

The next minute, Morgan was doing drills with the running backs, and after that he was running pass routes with the receivers.

Garrett nearly lost it when, a little later, he saw Morgan lining up as a defensive back, covering receivers.

"I was saying to myself, 'This is unbelievable.' And he wasn't even signed yet. But that's the guy he is," Garrett said. "He tries everything and does everything real hard. He's a guy you love to have around."

The Cowboys would love to have Morgan around. But Morgan's first preseason game against the Oakland Raiders Sunday night at Texas Stadium, just a short distance from where he grew up in Addison, will also be his last.

At least for now.

On Monday, Morgan will pack up his Honda Accord and make the 12-hour drive to Colorado Springs, Colo., to begin fulfilling a two-year postgraduate commitment to the Air Force.

The normal obligation is five years. But Morgan has petitioned for release after two with an increased amount of reserve duty, which he could fulfill during NFL offseasons.

Dallas coaches like Morgan's unrelenting work ethic. He knows the playbook from attending all three of the Cowboys' minicamps, even without a contract, and he can play quarterback, running back, receiver and defensive back.

"To make an impression on the coaches you have to go after it every play," says Morgan, who is always early to practice and then stays late for more work.

Morgan, 5-foot-10 and 192 pounds, makes up for his smallish size with quickness and determination, hitting holes at full speed in drills in which others loaf and then racing back to the huddle after a play is whistled dead.

"Beau works as hard as anyone out here," Dallas coach Barry Switzer said. "Hopefully, he'll come back and play for us in a couple years. He's just a good kid who is a tremendous competitor and incredibly smart."

Running backs coach Joe Brodsky insists Morgan isn't just a training camp novelty. He points to the fact that Morgan set an NCAA Division I record for rushing yards by a quarterback last year as the focal point of Air Force's option attack with 225 attempts for 1,498 yards and 18 touchdowns.

Brodsky has some ideas for Morgan when he comes back.

"We can use him as a quarterback in the option game. We can use him at running back and as a slot receiver," Brodsky said. "He's going to be very good in the future. He's everything we thought he was going to be."

Dallas defensive tackle Chad Hennings, also an Air Force graduate, isn't surprised by Morgan's performance thus far.

"It's standard," Hennings said. "Most of the Air Force Academy athletes are overachievers, guys who weren't necessarily good enough to go to some of the bigger programs but good enough to play Division I."

Hennings, who had to serve a four-year postgraduate commitment because he was a pilot, has given Morgan tips on how to prepare for the NFL.

"Chad's gone out of his way to help me and to tell me how important it is to serve my commitment to the Air Force," Morgan said.

Morgan will serve as an assistant football coach for Air Force's jayvee team his first year. It will allow him to stay in shape and stay close to his brother, Blaine, who is expected to start at quarterback for Air Force this season.

Still, Morgan says it will be difficult to make the drive to Colorado with Sunday night's game still fresh in his mind.

"Coming out of high school, I never really thought about the NFL, so the postgraduate commitment wasn't a big deal," Morgan said. "I was just trying to make a college team.

"Sure, I would love to stay and play with the Cowboys, but to second guess myself like that wouldn't be fair. The Academy's given me the chance to run the ball as much as I did.

"I realized I had an obligation after I graduated, so I'm going to be happy to do that as well."

All content copyright 1997, AP, KRT, The Abilene Reporter-News and Reporter OnLine

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