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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Morrison returns to Shorter as new head football coach

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Zach Morrison

Zach Morrison (Shorter University)

Shorter University is bringing back another name from its earliest days of football to try and help revitalize a program that has seen rough times in recent seasons.

Zach Morrison, an offensive lineman on the Hawks’ inaugural football team in 2005 who played four seasons under head coach Phil Jones, has been named the team’s head coach, Shorter announced Wednesday.

The hire comes just more than a month after the school announced the hiring of former offensive coordinator Tony Lundy as its new athletic director. The Cedartown High School alum was on Jones’ staff in the beginning until 2010.

“It is really good to come back home. I’m still pinching myself,” Morrison said in a release from the school. “I’m excited and so blessed to have been given this opportunity. My family and close friends are all excited for me.”

Morrison comes to Shorter from Kennesaw Mountain High School where he served as head wrestling coach and assistant football coach since June 2016. He co-founded the school’s chapter of Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

The Forsyth Central High School alum graduated from Shorter in 2008 with a Bachelor of Science degree, having majored in political science, government and history.

He has also taught and coached at Statesboro High School, East Jackson High School in Commerce and at Coosa High School.

“I love Shorter and have always wanted to support the school,” Morrison said in the release. “It’s also important to me to keep Coach Jones’ memory and tradition alive. He’s the reason I am teaching and coaching. He taught us all so much, and I want to follow his example of recruiting good athletes who are solid people.”

Morrison inherits a program that has failed to win a game since Oct. 2015.

Former head coach Aaron Kelton was let go in November following his second season at the helm. The Hawks went 0-22 during his time there.

Lundy, who officially began his duties as AD on Monday, said they had been working to find a new head coach and made it a priority.

“We had 125 applications for the head coach position, and I knew we were looking for someone with a strong connection to the university,” Lundy said in a release.

“Zach’s name quickly rose to the top of the list, and we are so excited to have him lead our football program.”

Morrison said he is excited about meeting the current team and rebuilding the culture, brick by brick, of the Shorter University football program to put it back in the national spotlight while producing men of character.

“The possibility to build a Christ-centered program based on relationships will change the culture of our program for the better and create a positive impact on the school and in the community,” he said.

Morrison started every game during his four years with the Hawks, and was a three-time All-Mid-South Conference and Academic All-Mid-South selection. He became the first football student athlete inducted into the Shorter University Athletic Hall of Fame in 2013.

A member of Shorter’s 2008 Mid-South Conference Western Division championship team, Morrison has been an active member of the Gridiron Club and was instrumental in creating the Shorter Football Letterman Club, which annually presents a scholarship to a student athlete.

Shorter press release:

Zach Morrison, an offensive lineman on the Hawks inaugural football team who played four years for the Hawks, has been named head coach of Shorter University's football program. He will begin his duties immediately.

"Zach was an outstanding athlete who made a tremendous impact during his time at Shorter," said Shorter University President Dr. Don Dowless. "He played for beloved Head Coach Phil Jones and quickly emerged as a team leader. As an alumnus, he has continued to build support for the Hawks football program, establishing the Shorter Letterman Club to keep former players and coaches connected to Shorter and, through that group, has worked to provide scholarship support to players who excel on and off the field. We are excited to see the impact he will have on our football program and the young men on the team."

Morrison comes to Shorter from Kennesaw Mountain High School, where he has served as head coach of the school's wrestling team and assistant football coach since June 2016. He is the co-founder of Fellowship of Christian Athletes at Kennesaw Mountain, where he continued Shorter's mission of Transforming Lives through Christ while working in a public high school setting. He also taught AP US History and co-directed the school's international studies program. He previously taught and coached at Statesboro High School, East Jackson High School in Commerce, and at Rome's Coosa High School.

"Zach was an offensive lineman and center when I was Offensive Coordinator at Shorter," said Shorter University Athletic Director Tony Lundy. "He was one of the best offensive linemen we ever had. Football is in his blood; his dad was the right guard on the 1980 University of Georgia National Championship Team, and we were blessed to be able to recruit Zach to come to Shorter as a player."

A member of Shorter's inaugural football team in 2005, Morrison started every game during his four years with the Hawks. During that time, he was a three-time All-Mid-South Conference and Academic All-Mid-South selection. As a senior in 2008, he was named a College Fanz second team All-American and an NAIA Scholar-Athlete.

He was a key member of Shorter's first-ever conference championship squad, helping the Hawks to the Mid-South Conference title in 2008. Since graduation, he has been an active member of the Gridiron Club and was instrumental in creating the Shorter Football Letterman Club, which annually presents a scholarship to a student athlete who represents everything a Shorter Hawk should academically and athletically. In 2013, Morrison became the first football student athlete inducted into the Shorter University Athletic Hall of Fame.

Lundy added that it is exciting to welcome Morrison back to the Shorter family. "We had 125 applications for the head coach position, and I knew we were looking for someone with a strong connection to the university. Zach's name quickly rose to the top of the list, and we are so excited to have him lead our football program."

Morrison added, "It is really good to come back home. I'm still pinching myself. I'm excited and so blessed to have been given this opportunity. My family and close friends are all excited for me. I love Shorter and have always wanted to support the school. It's also important to me to keep Coach Jones' memory and tradition alive. He's the reason I am teaching and coaching. He taught us all so much, and I want to follow his example of recruiting good athletes who are solid people."

Morrison said he is excited about meeting the current team and rebuilding the culture, brick by brick, of the Shorter University football program to put it back in the national spotlight while producing men of character.

"The possibility to build a Christ-centered program based on relationships will change the culture of our program for the better and create a positive impact on the school and in the community," he said.

He also looks forward to working with coaches across the state to recruit players for the Hawks football program. "I've worked all over the state, and I've networked with a lot of coaches. There are a lot of Shorter alumni who are coaching, and I've already been receiving calls recommending that I take a look at players," he said.

Morrison graduated from Shorter in 2008 with a Bachelor of Science degree, having majored in political science, government and history. While at Shorter, he studied abroad in Russia and England and was a member of the History Club. He was selected as Shorter's Student Athlete of the Year in 2008.