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Max Aims To Be Factor In Bearcats Passing Attack

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The most prolific quarterback in high school football history is Maty Mauk - the younger brother of former Bearcats QB Ben Mauk - who passed for 18,932 yards and 219 TD at Kenton High School.

While Maty wound up at Missouri, his favorite target wound up at Cincinnati.

Wide receiver Max Morrison caught 289 passes at Kenton H.S. including a mind-boggling 142 receptions for 2,033 yards and 27 touchdowns as a senior.  His single-season reception total was reportedly the fourth highest in history at the time.

After seeing those astonishing passing stats, I had to ask, "Did Kenton even have running plays in the playbook?"

"No we did not," Morrison told me with a grin.  "It was a five wide (receivers) air raid and we threw the ball.  Our only running play was if the quarterback didn't see a receiver open, he took off and ran."

Max Morrison 2013 (440x325).jpg

Morrison will be a redshirt sophomore for the Bearcats this season and is looking to be a key figure in UC's passing attack.  With leading receiver Anthony McClung nursing a sore hamstring in training camp, Max has generally practiced with the first string offense.

"I'm confident, but it's fall camp and there's a lot of competition," said Morrison.  "I'm running with the 'ones' right now, but that's just a depth chart.  You have to come out every day and compete."

After redshirting as a freshman, Morrison appeared in 11 games last year without making a reception.  But in his first spring practice under Tommy Tuberville, the 6'1", 181 pound receiver caught his new head coach's attention by catching nearly every pass thrown in his direction. 

"Max probably had the best spring of anybody catching the ball," said Tuberville. 

"As soon as the new coaches came in, I looked at it and said, 'I need to show them what I can do,'" said Morrison.  "I think I did open a few eyes.  I didn't get a whole lot of opportunities the last two years here, but that's said and done.  They're giving me my chance now and I'm trying to do what I can with it."

Morrison hasn't stood out quite as much in the first week of training camp - perhaps because he's often been matched up against top cornerback Deven Drane - but Tuberville expects him to play a significant role this season.

"He'll be an on-and-off starter," said Tuberville.  "We'll probably play eight to 10 receivers every game and he'll be in the rotation.  I'm pleased with his progress, but after watching him in the spring I had bigger hopes for him coming back and being stronger in two-a-days, but for some reason he started off a little slow.  But he's getting better." 

"Camp is a grind," said Morrison.  "Everybody out here gets dead legs, but you have to be mentally tough and keep working.  I'm going against a three-year starter in Deven Drane every day and that can't do anything but make me better."

Max is not the first member of his family to play at UC.  His grandfather Joe finished his college career in 1958 as Cincinnati's all-time leading scorer (since broken) and went on to spend 14 years with the New York Giants who eventually retired his uniform number.

"I remember coming here on my official visit and one of the coaches showed me the school's Hall of Fame and lo and behold, there he is:  Joe Morrison, number 21," Max told me.  "I thought it was really cool to see that and follow in his footsteps."

And while it will be difficult to match his crazy high school stats, Morrison aims to be a reliable target for Bearcats quarterbacks in the years to come.

"I have three years left and it all starts this season," said Morrison.  "I got a few plays last year at the end of games, but now it's a new coaching staff, a new fresh start, so I'm going to come out here and work hard every day and hopefully everything falls into place."

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