Editor’s Note: Prairie View A&M quarterback Jalen Morton checks in at No. 76 in our ranking of the Green Bay Packers’ 90-man roster.
GREEN BAY, Wis. – The Green Bay Packers’ rookie quarterback is intelligent, confident, driven to succeed and has a rifle for an arm.
No, this isn’t another story about first-round pick Jordan Love.
Rather, it’s about Jalen Morton, an undrafted free agent from Prairie View A&M.
According to his biography, he can throw a football 100 yards. Is that true?
“Yes, sir,” he said matter-of-factly.
Really? For all the remarkable things Aaron Rodgers has done with a football over the years, he’s never thrown it 100 yards.
“The last time I did that was late July before camp. I was like, ‘Yeah, I’m feeling good about the season,’” Morton said. “I feel good about it. I feel good about it because I know my arm strength. I used to play baseball. I know the type of conditioning to keep in shape and keep doing that. I’ve seen Aaron Rodgers flick the ball and it goes 75. I can only imagine what he would do if he takes a couple of hitches and lets it go.”
In 35 games over four seasons, Morton threw for 5,237 yards and 42 touchdowns while adding 1,579 rushing yards and 22 more touchdowns. In eight games as a senior, he completed a career-high 59.5 percent of his passes with 15 touchdown passes (plus six more rushing) and 10 interceptions.
The arm strength is merely one interesting note about Morton.
“I’m a mechanical engineer and just graduated,” he explained last month. “I was doing 7 hours, three labs and one real class, training at APEC in Fort Worth, driving Tuesdays for 3 or 4 hours to Prairie View to do whatever homework that I couldn’t do at home on the engineering computers, having a class on Wednesdays, then going right back to Arlington to drive to Fort Worth on Thursday mornings for training. And I was doing that the whole time. My process was definitely different. I don’t know about everyone else, but I can say I got my bachelor’s in mechanical engineering while getting picked up by Green Bay.”
Morton’s not sure what he wants to do with his degree. Obviously, he’s hoping he won’t have to put that degree to work anytime soon.
“All I know is I’m going to help invent and build machinery,” he said. “When I was younger, I knew that I wanted to help NASA go into space. I just want to invent. I feel like I have the mind for inventing.”
He’s also got a mind for shoe repair. Like many athletes and shoe aficionados, Morton loves a pair of classic Jordans. Like many students, Morton didn’t have the money to buy a pair of mint Jordans. So, in the footwear version of “Fixer Upper,” Morton goes bargain hunting in search of a pair of shoes that need some TLC.
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“That’s a hobby of mine to get my mind off of things,” Morton explained. “When I have a little free time, I love retro Jordans. My favorite shoe is the Jordan 1s. If there’s a rare type of shoe that I want, if I find that shoe on Facebook or eBay and it’s a good price but it’s kind of a beater – what I mean by beater, I mean the shoe is bad and they’re trying to give it away for 50 or 60 bucks – I’ll restore it. I’ll repaint it and make it look brand new.”
Some of the shoes are kept. Some are sold. He laughed when asked how many shoes are in his closet.
“I couldn’t tell you. Me and my brother wear the same size and we switch back and forth.”
And if that’s not enough, with a fastball that topped out at 97 or 98 mph while a high-schooler in Arlington, Texas, Morton said he was on the Toronto Blue Jays’ radar. However, when Prairie View offered him a scholarship to play football, his athletic future was set.
“I love football more,” he said.
Lacking glittering stats or high-profile wins on his resume, Morton flew significantly under the radar following five years at the school. He was not invited to the Scouting Combine, and he lost chances to impress scouts once the COVID-19 pandemic canceled pro-day and on-campus workouts.
“Most definitely it was (disappointing), just because I know at every pro day I was going to show out,” Morton said. “Every pro day I was invited to, people wanted me to come to, I was going to show out. A lot of people were going to see the accuracy that they didn’t see in the games or didn’t ‘show on paper.’ You did see the accuracy in games. It was there. It was there. If you watch my film, it was definitely there, but I was going to show them how more accurate I got. My footwork was going to be exceptional; it was definitely going to be crisper. I just wanted to showcase myself on a level where I know I belong. Just because I come from a SWAC, D-I-AA school, that really means nothing to me. I’m as big, I’m as strong, I’m as intelligent, I work harder than a lot of people. That’s how I feel. Coming from that school only gives me motivation to work harder, to have that extra chip on my shoulder. I knew I needed to work on a lot of things. Not ‘a lot’ as in big things. I was very honed in on a lot of little things.”
Offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett called Morton an intriguing prospect.
“He’s been great,” Hackett said recently. “Work ethic, tremendous. Attentive in the meetings, asking great questions. He would have really benefitted from being with us – as anybody would. He’s been awesome. I’m extremely excited to see what he can do. Obviously, only being able to watch his film from college, there’s a lot of raw talent. I think it’ll be really fun to get my hands on him once we get together at the end of July or early August.”
With size (6-foot-3, 237 pounds), arm strength and intelligence, why was Morton at Prairie View A&M rather than a high-profile football factory that might have put him in a better position in the NFL?
“I couldn’t tell you,” he said. “It’s not my jurisdiction to tell you because I don’t know. I was always told it’s not where you start, it’s where you end. I ended with the Green Bay Packers. So, I’m here.”