‘Little bitty guy’ Drew Morgan fights stereotypes in bid to make Miami Dolphins

Arkansas’ Drew Morgan tries to fend off Auburn’s Jonathan Jones. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

DAVIE — The Dolphins’ offseason program concluded Thursday with a consensus on the underdog story of the summer. When the team regroups in more than a month for training camp and the fans come out, curious eyes will focus on No. 81, Drew Morgan, an undrafted receiver from Arkansas.

And he knows what you’ll be thinking.

“I’m a little bitty guy out there,” he said. “Most people compare me to the Wes Welkers or Eric Deckers, Jordy Nelsons and I just — I mean, (Danny) Amendola, (Julian) Edelman. You name them. I’m like, I don’t want to be stereotyped like that. We’re all football players.”

The stereotype Morgan rejects, obviously, is that of the white wide receiver.

[EXCLUSIVE: Photos from Wednesday at Dolphins minicamp]

In the end, that won’t have any effect on whether Morgan beats the odds and makes the Dolphins. What will matter is whether August arrives and Morgan is still getting open, still fearless across the middle and still holding onto everything.

Because make no mistake, his performance thus far matches the buzz surrounding him. His chances of making the Dolphins are real, revolving around one thing.

“What’s he actually going to show when he gets to games in the preseason?” coach Adam Gase said.

Dolphins wide receiver Drew Morgan (81) during minicamp in Davie. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

If it’s what Morgan showed practicing against Miami’s defense, it may be enough.

“I’m happy. I’m not satisfied,” Morgan said, which is as close as any player on the bubble will come to admitting he feels upbeat. Morgan doesn’t have the pedigree of Isaiah Ford, the Virginia Tech receiver the Dolphins drafted in the seventh round, but Gase’s opening address to players is that it’s all about performance, not pedigree.

Of not getting drafted, Morgan said, “Honestly, I’ve heard people say it’s the best thing that could happen to you, it’s the worst thing that could happen to you. Me being out here on the field, getting an opportunity, is the best thing that’s ever happened to me. It doesn’t matter how I got here or where I came from, but just being able to work again is a great feeling.”

How Morgan got here is a story unto itself.

Morgan was a two-year starter for the Razorbacks who played 49 career games and finished with 138 receptions for 1,763 yards (12.8 average) and 14 touchdowns. He made second-team All-SEC as a senior, when he had 65 receptions for 739 yards, including 40 catches for first downs. He also had a 27-game streak with a reception.

The only black mark was an ejection in the final game of his college career after he spit in the face of a Virginia Tech player in the Belk Bowl.

“Just kind of in people’s heads and they ended up making the most out of it,” Morgan said.

Among the games that stand out in his college career was the one on Nov. 29, 2013, when Arkansas lost 31-27 to LSU. Morgan saw Tigers receiver Jarvis Landry make eight catches for 113 yards. Morgan decided this was a receiver worth studying, a receiver with swag. Morgan wanted swag, too. He just never expected to be sharing a locker room with Landry.

“I was nervous to talk to Jarvis but he brought me under his wing, talked to me,” Morgan said. “It’s kind of hard to understand a Louisiana boy, but I’m sure he could say the same thing about me.”

Arkansas’ Drew Morgan fights for yardage against Virginia Tech’s Brandon Facyson. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Nobody ever accused Landry about being timid in traffic. It’s something Morgan says he enjoys doing.

“I’m a little guy out there — a buck-85, a buck-90,” said Morgan, who’s listed at 6-feet and 193. “But going across the middle is something that I love to do because a lot of people don’t want to do it. It shows that I care about the ball. It’s your baby. Take care of it.”

Coincidentally, both are nicknamed Juice, although you’ll never hear Morgan mentioning it to Landry. He knows in Davie, there’s a patent on the nickname.

Morgan figures his running stance and how he gets out of breaks doomed his draft status. His 40 time, 4.74, may have been the overriding factor.

“When you’re running a 40, yeah, I’m slow,” he said. “But on the football field, I’m fast.”

Continuing on the classic underdog theme are two quotes he posts on his social media pages: “The measure of what we are is what we do with what we have” and “Motivated and underrated.”

Six wide receivers made the team coming out of training camp last year, although in the Joe Philbin era, sometimes only four stuck. The locks are Landry, Kenny Stills and DeVante Parker. Morgan’s competition includes Ford and Leonte Carroo, who both were drafted. A wild card is Jakeem Grant, another former draft pick who’s primarily a return specialist.

Addressing Morgan, Gase said, “I think he’s put himself in a good position to compete and that’s all really you can ask for when you have an undrafted rookie who came in here. Nobody probably even knew who he really was coming in here, and he’s put himself on the map.”

Next he has to put himself on the roster. After that, maybe he can worry about swag.

“I mean, if cowboy boots and a cowboy hat is swag in Miami, then I’ve got it,” he joked. “But I doubt it.”

Miami Dolphins: Thursday’s minicamp practice report

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What Adam Gase said Wednesday after Miami Dolphins practice

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