In a year that some people will want to quickly forget, wide receiver Stanley Morgan had a season for the Nebraska record books.
The junior from New Orleans broke Nebraska’s single-season receiving record during the Huskers’ 56-14 loss to Iowa on Saturday at Memorial Stadium.
Morgan finished the season with 986 receiving yards, topping the previous record of 942 by Johnny Rodgers during his Heisman Trophy-winning season in 1972. Morgan had two catches on the final drive of the game but came up just short of the first 1,000-yard receiving season in Nebraska history.
Morgan came into the game needing 31 yards to set the record. He finished with seven receptions for 74 yards and had the Huskers’ only two touchdowns of the game.
Morgan's first catch was a spectacular one-handed grab for a 14-yard touchdown through three Iowa defenders in the back of the end zone in the first quarter.
Nebraska offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf said Morgan did a great job on the play.
“It was a great route,” Langsdorf said. “He had an inside release and he kept it high over the top, and it was a really good play. I thought he had some good moments. He had some tough plays in there, but I thought overall he had a nice game.”
Morgan broke the record on his second touchdown of the game, a 28-yard reception on a great throw from Tanner Lee that put the Huskers up 14-7.
Morgan’s two touchdowns increased his season total to 10. He is the fourth player in NU history to have at least 10 touchdown catches in a season, joining Quincy Enunwa (12, 2013), Rodgers (11, 1971) and Nate Swift (10, 2008).
“Stan’s one of those bright spots,” said Nebraska fullback Luke McNitt. “You could argue the greatest receiver to ever come through here, and the stats prove that. That kid comes to work every day. He used to say he looked up to me and the way I worked, but by the end of the season I was looking up to him, the way he prepares every day.”
Morgan came into the game leading the Big Ten in receiving yards per game with 91.2.
“I think there’s not a lot of defensive backs in this league or in the nation that can cover him one-on-one, and you’re going to have a tough time going up against him,” McNitt said. “He’s got a bright future here and he’s going to play a lot of football after this.”
With one more season to play, Morgan already ranks sixth in program history in career receiving yards (1,743) and is No. 7 in career receptions (119).
Though the disappointment of the season being over, Lee also spoke highly of Morgan.
“He’s as good as it gets,” Lee said. “Stanley and I, being from the same area, kind of had a bond before I got here, and for him to play so well and stay healthy all year and be so effective and dominant, it’s just a testament to the way he comes to work. Nobody comes to practice and practices harder than Stanley. No one is louder and more emotional and energetic than him day in and day out. He’s such a key part of our team in a million different ways. Him breaking that record is just a testament to that work. It’s really no surprise. He definitely, 100 percent, earned that record.”
Langsdorf said the offensive production of wide receivers like JD Spielman, De’Mornay Pierson-El and Morgan was one of the positives of the season for the offense.
But overall Langsdorf called the season a disappointment on offense. The Huskers came into the game ranked 13th in the Big Ten in rushing offense and sixth in scoring offense.
“It’s going to take a lot of work and a lot of effort to get to the top of the conference,” Langsdorf said. “You see some of the other teams that are having success and how much work it is to get to that level, and how important it is every game and every play to execute and to keep learning and make plays. And we’ve got to put them in the best position to help them make plays. We’ve got a lot to work. That’s evident when you have a record like we did.”