Illinois landed some more help out of the transfer portal this week, and this time it was at the wide receiver position. Jonah Morris is a 6-foot-4, 210-pound receiver and is transferring in from the University of Northern Colorado, who plays on the FCS level.
Morris has taken a unique route to arrive at Illinois. According to Rivals, he was rated 5.7, 3 star, and 43rd-best athlete in the 2016 class. Morris originally committed to Indiana University before transferring to the University of Akron. After two years at Akron, Morris transferred out and eventually landed at the University of Northern Colorado. While at Akron, Morris had his best years before succumbing to injuries and opting out of the COVID year.
On film, Morris is a tall wide receiver with a large catch radius. He has enough speed to create separation at the FBS level and will lay out to make difficult catches. Morris is not afraid to go across the middle of the field to make a catch — a trait that will be beneficial when running RPOs. He has the frame to develop into a physical blocker on the perimeter, if he desires to do so. Having solid blocking on the perimeter could help spring more explosive plays, which is something that was lacking in 2021.
Outside of Isaiah Williams, Illinois has few proven playmakers at the wide receiver position. Pat Bryant looks to have taken the next step in his development; Casey Washington is a possession receiver who can make difficult catches; and Brian Hightower has the physical tools to be successful, but has yet to put it all together. While Shawn Miller received high praise during spring practice and Eian Pugh flashed at the spring game, they are still freshmen. Hank Beatty and Ashton Hollins are also freshmen who have yet to arrive on campus. Counting on multiple freshmen, at the same position, to consistently produce at a high level is usually not a recipe for success. It was imperative that the staff bring in a veteran receiver who could, at bare minimum, provide assistance in the development of the younger receivers and, at best, increase the wide receiver production on the field.
There is no doubt about the physical ability possessed by Morris. The question is how productive he will be for Illinois after missing so much football due to various reasons. Morris will be a graduate transfer, so he’ll be aiming to make the most of his final opportunity at the college level and the staff will be sure to get his best effort in 2022.
Jonah Morris YouTube highlights linked below.