The Richard Morrison experiment is over. Or at least on an indefinite hold.
The high school quarterback-turned college wide receiver-turned spring practice quarterback is back at wide receiver.
“It’s wide receiver all the way,” Arizona Wildcats coach Rich Rodriguez said after Friday night’s practice.
“We might try to give him a few reps at quarterback here and there because he’s explosive,” Rodriguez said.
Morrison, a redshirt junior, got an audition at quarterback in the spring with the new coaching staff and the new read-option offense that fits his athletic skills. The Wildcats didn’t have another quarterback on scholarship after senior Matt Scott.
Now, they do.
Junior college transfer B.J. Denker and freshmen Javelle Allen and Josh Kern are likely to emerge as backups, with Denker already showing a strong arm through two practices.
“So far, B.J. is progressing pretty well,” Rodriguez said.
Morrison could become an option at quarterback again if the progress of the other quarterbacks stalls … or if Scott went down with a long-term injury. Although an injury to his pectoral muscle limited what Morrison could in the spring, the coaches by now have a decent idea of what he can do, and it’s more beneficial to try to get those newcomers up to speed.
“I see myself as Mr. Versatile. I do whatever I can whenever I can,” Morrison said.
“If I had to go back to quarterback, I would, but right now my plan is to be a wide receiver. I’m happy with it. Coach is going to put me in the right spot.”
Morrison (5-11, 183) should be a valuable part of the offense as a slot receiver and as a potential returner on punts and kickoffs.
Morrison caught 22 passes for 201 yards and two touchdowns last season in the most prolific passing offense in school history. The Cats will run the ball more this year, but Morrison moves way up on the experience chart after Arizona lost five of its top six pass-catchers.
A hamstring strain has kept him out of the first two practices, but he could return within a couple of days, hoping to pick up where he left off in the spring game when he caught five passes for 75 yards and two touchdowns.
“It was a motivation boost to see what I could do at wide receiver,” Morrison said. “I didn’t get to do as much as I wanted to in the other offense, so this is my opportunity to show what I can really do.”