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Morton making major strides ahead of long-awaited starting campaign

Behren Morton at the 2024 Big 12 Media Days
Behren Morton at the 2024 Big 12 Media Days (© Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports)

Behren Morton arrived on the campus of Texas Tech as the fourth string quarterback for his freshman season in 2021.

The year after, he played third fiddle to Tyler Shough and Donovan Smith, eventually making his way to appear in nine games, starting in four. The 2023 run saw Morton become the starter with Shough downed four games in and Smith completely out of the picture at Houston.

It has been a tumultuous three years that ultimately led to Morton being in his current position, but the growth is paying dividends in his approach to his first season as the definitive QB1.

“Having the leadership part and being the leader that everyone can rely on has been the biggest takeaway,” Morton told Kevin Fielder of EMAWOnline.com at Big 12 Media Days. “I think with getting a lot of new transfers this season and just showing them the ropes of what it is to be The Brand and this culture under coach (Joey) McGuire.”

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The group around Morton is well equipped to give him the opportunities he has been gradually progressing towards. Highlighted by the return of Tahj Brooks, elite playmaker Josh Kelly, Morton’s childhood friend Jalin Conyers and Micah Hudson, among others, the expectations are high around this refreshed offensive arsenal.

After the first day of spring practice, Morton told the media, “I want the identity of this offense to revolve around what (offensive coordinator Zach) Kittley really truly expects us to do. This offense is going to be very explosive.”

The bevy of new offensive talent has at times been overshadowed by the narrative that surrounds Morton, one that has been fully fledged out several times over: the status of his shoulder.

Since September, Morton has been in-and-out of rehabbing a severe AC sprain which hindered his play through the entirety of last season. By way of a trip to Jacksonville, FL, this summer, Morton was able to work with one of the most prominent minds in the thrower rehab realm.

“I worked with Tom Gormely and his crew, and it was awesome,” Morton said. Gormely holds several certifications in the physiology spectrum and has worked with NFL quarterbacks like Anthony Richardson and Brock Purdy. “I was out there for a full week and got to spend a lot of time with him. Learned a lot of stuff and took it back to Lubbock, did my rehab and it was awesome.”

Morton now stands by the claim that he did not have to make long term tweaks to his throwing mechanics, though he acknowledged that he had to change it up throughout the season.

The Eastland native is adamant and has told anybody who will listen that he is 100 percent and ready to go. After a season where he was largely unable to practice and throw in the days leading up to games, Morton’s current offseason regimen has seen a major uptick in his reps.

“I throw four times a week, 75 game rep throws,” Morton noted. “Not counting warm up throws, I’m really throwing around almost 100 balls, four times a week.”

Morton was named the Offensive Player of the Game after the Red Raiders' Independence Bowl victory over California
Morton was named the Offensive Player of the Game after the Red Raiders' Independence Bowl victory over California (© Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports)

With three seasons in the rear view and two more left to work with, the complexion of Morton’s Texas Tech career is one where he has been around for so long and yet he has plenty left to prove.

The physical attributes and “can-do” attitude are evidenced greatly in his “West Texas tough” nature of play. While some may take Morton’s early shutdown in spring camp to be a negative, the positive extends far more vast than just his shoulder getting the rest it needed.

“That was the biggest takeaway was after the physical part got taken out of it, it was more mental,” Morton said. “Just what I could expand my knowledge of the game outside of the physical part. It was really good to see this offseason what I could take mentally.”

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