DII football: Kutztown's Jordan Morgan wins 2016 Gene Upshaw Lineman of the Year Award
Manheim, Pa. – Kutztown University senior left tackle Jordan Morgan has been named the recipient of the 2016 Gene Upshaw Division II Lineman of the Year Award presented by the Manheim Touchdown Club, project coordinator Don Harris announced on Wednesday.
The Gene Upshaw Award is presented annually to the top NCAA Division II junior or senior offensive or defensive lineman in the nation. Sports information directors from the football-playing Division II institutions comprise the voters.
As a recipient of the Gene Upshaw Award, Morgan receives a trophy in the likeness of Upshaw and recognition at the Manheim Touchdown Club’s annual banquet in May. The winner of the award receives an automatic invitation to participate in the East/West Shrine Game.
The first offensive lineman in Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) history to win an athlete of the year award, Morgan was named PSAC East Offensive Athlete of the Year in 2016 after helping the Golden Bears to the PSAC Championship game and an undefeated PSAC East record. Morgan paved the way to a pair of school rushing records and helped his offensive line to a school record for consecutive games without allowing a sack. A three-time All-PSAC East First Team selection, Morgan started 43 of Kutztown’s 44 games in his career, landed consensus All- America honors in 2015 and was an honorable mention pick in 2014. Morgan has been invited to the NFL Combine and is one of just six players in PSAC history to be invited to the Senior Bowl.
“When I called Jordan to announce that he had won the award and to congratulate him, he told me that when he was entering college one of his goals as a football player was to win the Gene Upshaw Division II Lineman of the Year Award,” said Harris. “Dreams really do come true if you work hard enough on them. The Manheim Touchdown Club wishes Jordan the very best at the next level. It’s one of his dreams!”
The initial field of 51 nominees was narrowed to eight after a round of voting at the Super Region level. In one of the closest votes in the award’s history, Morgan finished with 310 points, just 17 more than runner-up Peter Bateman of Minnesota-Duluth. McKendree defensive end Lucky Baar, Division II’s all-time sacks leader, finished in a close third with 275 points. Morgan received a first-place vote on 19 of the 55 ballots cast. Baar totaled 15 No. 1 votes and Bateman received nine. West Georgia defensive end Dylan Donahue, a repeat finalist, finished fourth and was followed by Slippery Rock defensive end Marcus Martin, North Alabama offensive lineman Stephen Evans, Sioux Falls offensive lineman Antonio Green, and Grand Valley State defensive end Sydney Omameh. Martin gave Slippery Rock a national finalist in each of the last three years. Omameh continued a strong Grand Valley State tradition that includes a record four winners.
Four of the eight national finalists played for teams that reached the NCAA Division II Playoffs. Evans’ North Alabama squad and Omameh’s Grand Valley State team will play in the quarter finals on Dec. 3.
“Jordan is exactly what you want as an offensive lineman,” said Kutztown offensive line coach Corey Woods. “He has unbelievable work ethic, toughness and self-motivation. Jordan has a bright future ahead of him but most importantly he will be leaving here with a degree and will always be a Kutz- town Golden Bear.”
“He’s an extremely physical presence,” said Kutztown head coach Jim Clements. “He’s a mauler in the run game and has excellent feet in the pass game. He hasn’t given up a sack in as long as I can recall, and he’s just one of those players that plays through the whistle.”
Morgan is the 13th recipient of the award named in honor of former Texas A&I (now Texas A&M Kingsville) University and NFL All-Pro offensive lineman Gene Upshaw. Upshaw, a 1987 inductee into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, served 25 years as the executive director of the NFL Players Association until his death in 2008.
Gene Upshaw Award finalists continue to achieve success at the highest level. Previous winners Brandon Fusco (Slippery Rock, 2010) and Matt Judson (Grand Valley State, 2015), 2005 finalist Jahri Evans (Bloomsburg), 2008 finalist Dan Skuta (Grand Valley State), 2012 finalists David Bass (Missouri Western), Ryan Schraeder (Valdosta State) and Ryan Jensen, 2014 finalists Caushaud Lyons (Tusculum) Julian Howsare (Clarion) and 2015 finalists Morgan Fox (Colorado State-Pueblo) and Cory Tucker (Slippery Rock) are all currently on NFL rosters.
|Dylan Donahue||West Georgia||242|
|Marcus Martin||Slippery Rock||221|
|Stephen Evans||North Alabama||214|
|Antonio Green||Sioux Falls||213|
|Sydeney Omameh||Grand Valley State||182|