Now that the Virginia High School League has finalized its plans for high school sports for the 2020-21 athletic year, some Central Virginia football players are weighing their playing options.
On Monday, as part of its return-to-sports plan, the VHSL Executive Committee voted to move the high school football season to the early spring for this upcoming school year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That could mean some of the top high school prospects in the state may not suit up for their teams this season.
One of those prospects is Louisa County running back Robert Morgan IV, who said Monday that he will not play his senior year with the Lions, electing instead to enroll in college early.
“After talking with my parents, I’ve decided to enroll at Howard University in January,” Morgan said. “My parents and I just decided it was best to start my college education early.”
The rising senior recently verbally committed to join the Howard football program and reunite with former backfield mate Jarett Hunter. He sat down with his parents two weeks ago to discuss enrolling early, just before the VHSL Executive Committee announced its three return-to-sports proposals, none of which included playing football in the fall.
Morgan had a breakout year for the Lions last fall before he tore his anterior cruciate ligament in the regular season finale against Albemarle. He will be the latest Louisa County football player to graduate high school early to get a jump-start on playing college football, joining former teammates Brandon Smith (Penn State) and Noah Robinson (Old Dominion).
Morgan said the VHSL’s vote had no impact on his decision to forgo his senior year of high school football.
“It was difficult, because I felt like I had more to prove to myself from getting hurt at the end of the regular season,” he said.
Covenant senior athlete Jonas Sanker and Monticello quarterback Malachi Fields face similar decisions.
Sanker has won Virginia Independent Schools Football League 8-man championships at Covenant the past two seasons. Covenant recently announced that it will not field a varsity football program for the 2020 season due to low participation numbers.
That leaves Sanker, a University of Virginia commit, with a difficult decision.
He contemplated transferring to a public school to prepare himself for playing 11-man football at the college level. But after the VHSL’s announcement Monday, Sanker, who also is an all-state point guard for the Eagles’ basketball team, said that he will remain at Covenant for the time being.
“If there are no fall sports in [public schools], I will be at Covenant in the fall,” Sanker said. “There is a chance I’d transfer in the spring to play public school football.”
Fields, who, like Sanker, is a UVa commit, planned to play out his senior year at Monticello, regardless of the VHSL’s decision.
“I am super excited to play,” Fields said. “This is senior year and it’s time to ball out. I hadn’t planned on enrolling early, so this doesn’t change anything.”
The Mustangs’ senior quarterback is expected to be an impact player once again in the Jefferson District under first-year coach Matt Hicks. He’s excited about the opportunity.
“I’m just glad we get to have a season, even if it’s not in the normal season,” Fields said. “I’m excited to play. It’s going to be weird playing at a different time of year, but I’m ready to get into it and see what the season brings for me and my teammates.”