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2021 in-state target Marcus Morgan is learning how to lead the Trojans offense. Dargan Southard, msouthard@gannett.com

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IOWA CITY, Ia. — There’s calmness and understanding with every answer, reflecting the maturity Marcus Morgan brings to his situation. The process is neither overwhelming nor intimidating when it easily could be.

The early recruiting wheels are spinning for Iowa City West’s four-sport standout — the final piece in a family lineage loaded with elite athletes. With both parents and three siblings having all taken the Division I route, bearing the Morgan names comes with organic expectations. The youngest has waited long enough for his turn in the spotlight.

Now, it’s here.

“I envisioned it when I was young,” Morgan says, “and it’s turned into reality.”

Not every option has materialized just yet, but plenty will if Morgan’s hype follows the initial trajectory. Football and baseball futures have the most traction so far, with Iowa State’s Matt Campbell and Iowa’s Rick Heller having extended the first scholarship offers. The Morgans are a basketball-heavy family, so don’t count hoops out just yet. Track could be a solid side job, no matter where Marcus lands.

As much as multisport participation is encouraged on the high school scene, rarely does an athlete have a legitimate chance to carry more than one over to the Division I level. That’s why Morgan isn’t rushing a decision. He has more facets to consider than even high-end prospects.

That’d be stressful for some. Not this one.

“Some things just come natural for different people, and that maturity has come natural for him,” said Marcus’ father, Michael Morgan, whose experience as a former Iowa basketball player and Hawkeyes coach has proved valuable throughout. “What I’ve tried to do and what his mom has tried to do is prepare him for what could possibly happen. Always ask the right questions and learn as much as you can about whatever situation is presented in front of you. And then make some decision based on your heart.

“That’s kind of how he’s handled it. It’s going to be a feel for him — whichever sport — and whatever opportunity that comes in front of him.”

Given who’s already in the picture, it’s no surprise Marcus hears the most from in-state schools. He was at the Hawkeyes’ win over Rutgers last week and will be at Saturday’s Cy-Hawk showdown. Iowa and Iowa State are making the biggest football push as of now.

Each is intriguing for different reasons. The Cyclones’ early leap — and on-brand move for the Campbell regime — can always hold weight as the first offer. The Hawkeyes, obviously, are the only one of the two that provide a baseball-football combination. As with many Iowa kids, the in-state options are always worth analyzing.

Gradually, Marcus’ profile is growing beyond Iowa’s walls. The Trojans star says he hears the most from Miami (Ohio), Northern Illinois, Nebraska and other Big Ten schools for football. Northern Iowa, Loyola (Chicago) and a “couple other mid-majors” have shown basketball love. Baseball recruiting isn’t quite as intense as the revenue sports, but Minnesota has reached out there as well.

You can see why this is going to be a thorough procedure. It’s not uncommon for prospects to throw out "fit" and "feel" clichés when dissecting their recruiting processes. But it’s not lip service here.

Rushing a decision would be ill-advised, given the situation. Marcus is prepared for patience.     

“My support system is amazing,” Marcus says, “at home, friends, coaches — everybody’s pitching in and helping me out. It’s not just an individual effort. I don’t have any pressure to go anywhere. Everyone is saying, 'Find the right fit for you.'”

Aiding this journey has been Marcus’ own experiences in high-pressure settings. He was West’s starting quarterback, its top shooting guard and its mound ace, all by his sophomore season. At a school that expects athletic excellence across the board, there’s been no better training ground for what’s ahead.

Those roles have accelerated Marcus’ leadership abilities and maturity to handle this intriguing recruitment. He doesn’t crave the attention, but he’s comfortable with embracing it.

“He’s been a competitor all year-round in different sports. I think that carries over to the presence he has now on the football field,” Trojans coach Garrett Hartwig said. “Picking up eight starts last year, that gave him experience that there’s only one way to get — play. He’s still very raw as far as his potential goes, but he works very hard.             

“I think he sees the big picture very well for a young man his age. He’s got good support at home. He knows all his coaches here at West High are here for him as well. We want what’s best for him. In the end, I don’t know what he’s going to do. Whatever he does, he’ll be great at it. He’ll be able to handle it, because he’s a very intelligent young man.”

Marcus doesn’t know what’s next. Neither does his father, nor anyone else. That doesn’t stop the community from asking. The answer usually includes a laugh and a simple response: “You’ll have to ask Marcus.”

There’s no timeline in place, and Marcus doesn’t seem to mind. At the moment, he’s a high school kid trying to rack up Trojan wins.

That’s enough for now.

Dargan Southard covers Iowa and UNI athletics, recruiting and preps for the Des Moines Register, HawkCentral.com and the Iowa City Press-Citizen. Email him at msouthard@gannett.com or follow him on Twitter at @Dargan_Southard.

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