2013 TIMES DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR | CRETE-MONEE'S NYLES MORGAN

Crete-Monee's Nyles Morgan is The Times Defensive Player of the Year

2013-12-12T19:00:00Z 2013-12-13T01:09:53Z Crete-Monee's Nyles Morgan is The Times Defensive Player of the YearPaul Trembacki Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
December 12, 2013 7:00 pm  • 

John Konecki first noticed Nyles Morgan during a postseason practice in 2010.

Then the offensive coordinator at Crete-Monee, Konecki lined up to demonstrate a blocking technique against the scout team defense. Morgan, a freshman brought up to varsity for the playoffs, charged into the line at quarter speed. Konecki shot both hands into Morgan’s pads before slowly and silently returning to an observational post behind the offensive huddle.

Konecki stayed quiet, but he was hurting after underestimating the solid build on Morgan.

“I was in a lot of pain in both of my shoulders,” Konecki said. “I felt like I had just hit a league ball with a metal bat wearing no gloves on a cold day.”

Konecki, named the head coach at Crete-Monee before this season, certainly wasn’t the last to feel Morgan's sting.

At the end of his freshman year, few knew Morgan as an immovable force. By the end of his sophomore season, the southeast suburbs had learned that Morgan would be a nuisance for two more seasons.

By the end of his junior season, he showed the entire state what he could do as the Warriors capped an undefeated season and won the Class 6A state championship, his forced fumble turning the momentum of the game.

Now everyone knows him — from reigning Heisman trophy winner Johnny Manziel to Seahawks star Marshawn Lynch to fans he’s never met from the 40 colleges recruiting him.

For his brilliant senior season and shining high school career, the standout Crete senior linebacker has been selected all-state and selected to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl Jan. 4, 2014 in San Antonio. Now he can add a second consecutive Times Defensive Player of the Year honor to his awards haul.

“It’s amazing, when you invest in what you believe in, how realistic your dreams can become when your work ethic begins to match your ambitions,” Morgan said.

A three-year starter that went 40-2, the 6-foot-3, 230-pound Morgan in his senior season had 100 tackles (12 for loss), two sacks, two forced fumbles, three knockdowns and one interception, which he returned for a touchdown in a playoff game against Providence.

“He’s a super fast player,” Konecki said. “It’s very unique for a guy his size to run like he does and drop the hammer like he does when it comes to hitting people. He’s really the linchpin of that defense.”

With Konecki moving from offensive coordinator to head coach, replacing Jerry Verde, the Warriors switched from a 4-4 defense to a 4-3, allowing Morgan to be more of a true middle linebacker.

A bit of recognition Morgan received was Konecki’s admission that the freshman year hit was a jarring reminder of how good he’d probably be. Konecki waited until Morgan was a junior to tell him.

“I was confused for two years because he didn’t tell me anything that day,” Morgan said. “At the time I was a practice dummy, and he tried to demonstrate (blocking) on me. He didn’t say anything and just walked back toward the huddle.”

An eloquent speaker with a heavy focus on academics, Morgan plans to choose a major college football team during the lead-up to the Army All-American game in San Antonio.

This summer started the tidal wave of recognition. He flew to Oregon as a guest at Nike’s elite football talent event called The Opening. Seven-on-seven scrimmages, skills competitions and early looks at new Nike apparel were part of the event, but Morgan also hobnobbed with Bo Jackson, Marshawn Lynch and Johnny Manziel among others. Morgan even has Manziel’s number in his phone.

College visits followed The Opening, and representatives from the U.S. Army All-American Bowl came to Crete-Monee to present him with his jersey for the East squad in the event, No. 14, in the middle of the season at a news conference.

In the summer Morgan had to change his phone number. He has four huge boxes filled with recruiting letters, and his social media profiles are inundated. Several months ago fans from several colleges got into an argument that mentioned Morgan’s Twitter name over and over for three straight days.

“I wasn’t saying anything, but I can’t help that people are tagging me in their tweets,” Morgan said. “A lot of kids would kill for this opportunity. The key is to stay humble and keep working hard.”

He’s made a rash of unofficial visits to courting campuses and official visits to Ole Miss, where former teammate Laquon Treadwell plays, Florida and Notre Dame.

Although his dad, Crete resident and Bloom grad Thomas Morgan, played college football at Western Illinois and a little semi-pro football, Nyles was overwhelmed by the national attention.

For a long time he was, in his mind, just a kid who grew up with his mom in Gary and went to elementary school in Merrillville before moving to Crete with his dad around fourth grade.

He played baseball for 10 years. One day his dad drove him past a football practice and young Nyles knew what he wanted to play.

“He has not let it go to his head,” Konecki said. “He’s still the kid I blocked in that freshman year practice. He’s still exuberant. He still wants to get better at everything.”

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Follow The Times

Fan Poll

Loading…

Which school has the area's best girls soccer team?

View Results

Follow your school

Duneland Conference

Chesterton Trojans
News
Crown Point Bulldogs
News
Lake Central Indians
News
LaPorte Slicers
News
Merrillville Pirates
News
Michigan City Wolves
News
Portage Indians
News
Valparaiso Vikings
News

Greater South Shore Conference

Bishop Noll Warriors
News
Calumet Warriors
News
Lake Station Eagles
News
Michigan City Marquette Blazers
News
North Newton Spartans
News
River Forest Ingots
News
Wheeler Bearcats
News
Whiting Oilers
News

Great Lakes Athletic Conference

Clark Pioneers
News
Gavit Gladiators
News
Hammond Wildcats
News
Morton Governors
News

Hoosier Conference

Rensselaer Bombers
News

Northwest Crossroads Conference

Andrean 59ers
News
Griffith Panthers
News
Highland Trojans
News
Hobart Brickies
News
Kankakee Valley Kougars
News
Lowell Red Devils
News
Munster Mustangs
News

Northwestern Conference

Lew Wallace Hornets
News
Roosevelt Panthers
News
West Side Cougars
News

Porter County Conference

Boone Grove Wolves
News
Hanover Central Wildcats
News
Hebron Hawks
News
Kouts Mustangs/Fillies
News
LaCrosse Tigers
News
Morgan Twp. Cherokees
News
South Central Satellites
News
Washington Twp. Senators
News
Westville Blackhawks
News

Independents

Bowman Academy Eagles
News
Calumet Christian
News
Campagna Academy
News
Covenant Christian Knights
News
E.C. Central Cardinals
News
Hammond Baptist Swordsman
News
Luther East Eagles
News

Chicago Catholic League

Mt. Carmel Caravan
News
Seton Academy Sting
News
St. Francis deSales Pioneers
News

Chicago Public League

Washington Minutemen/Minutewomen
News

East Suburban Catholic

Marian Catholic Spartans
News

Metro Suburban

Illiana Christian Vikings
News

River Valley Conference

Beecher Bobcats/Ladycats
News
Illinios Lutheran Chargers
News

South Suburban Blue

T.F. North Meteors
News
T.F. South Rebels
News

Southland Athletic Conference

Bloom Twp. Blazin' Trojans
News
Crete-Monee Warriors
News

SouthWest Suburban Blue

Homewood-Flossmoor Vikings
News

SouthWest Suburban Red

Thornridge Falcons
News
Thornton Wildcats
News
Thornwood Thunderbirds
News