"I don't mean that in disrespect, but when we had really good wideouts, we were more explosive, and right now, I don't [think] that we have that"
That was Georgia head coach Kirby Smart following a (37-10) drubbing at the hands of the LSU Tigers in the SEC Championship game back on December 7th, 2019.
That football game was an eye-opening moment for Smart and his staff. And some would say it completely change the program. Since that night, Kirby Smart has made a litany of moves that point to an identity shift in a program that for years had been all about running the ball and playing good defense.
He needed weapons. So, he signed wide receivers Jermaine Burton, Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint, Arian Smith, and Justin Robinson. All top-250 overall players in the country in the 2020 signing class. Then added the No. 2 overall tight end in Darnell Washington just for fun.
He needed a new, innovative, and explosive offense. So, he went out and hired offensive coordinator Todd Monken.
Monken. That's where the story begins with North Cobb's wide receiver and recent Georgia commit, De'Nylon Morrissette.
Like every other Division 1 coach, Monken hasn't been able to get out on the recruiting trail since March of 2020, but that hasn't stopped him from selling his offense.
Monken has been hosting Zoom meetings with players, and he's not talking about the new $80m indoor facility, he's not showing the locker room on FaceTime. He's not doing any of that "look at what we've got here" type of virtual recruiting that most programs are draped in at this moment.
Monken is taking these prospects through his playbook on Zoom. He's teaching them concepts, coverages, protections, everything there is to know about what he does, and it's what sold Morrissette on the idea that Georgia was the place for him.
As Morrissette has learned, it takes a smart player to play inside of Monken's system. And during Thursday's practice at North Cobb High School, I got to see firsthand just how intelligent De'Nylon Morrissette is.
Option routes have become a major portion of modern offenses. Gone are the days where your route was your route no matter what the defense was trying to do. This means, when you're called upon to run a post route, for instance, how you go about running that post route is determined by what the defense does after the ball is snapped.
Morrissette is in his first spring practice with North Cobb after transferring over from Brookwood High School. So, he's relatively new to the playbook, new to the schemes, and new to his teammates — more on that later — but he's certainly not new to the nuances of football.
As he's breaking the huddle, his wide receiver coach tells him "Get skinny versus cover 3." In layman's terms, this means that if the defense rotates to a Cover 3 coverage, the wide receiver is expected to run the post with a much skinnier and vertical angle in order to get into the void of the defense, a common "option route" concept that has been implemented in today's game.
Morrissette nods his head, runs the route, sees the safety rotate post-snap to indicate they were in Cover 3, and he converted his route for a 45-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Malachi Singleton. To the astonishment of his wide receiver coach as well.
"I'm not used to having to just tell someone something once and having them do it the first time."
It's those intangibles, it's that intelligence, that sold Georgia on a guy like De'Nylon Morrissette.
As for what he's like as a teammate, North Cobb head coach Shane Queen said he's never had a kid transfer in and have other players gravitate to him like Morrissette. "He just does everything right. All the time," said Queen.
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