Shorter football was never too far from Zach Morrison’s mind or heart.
Now, however, it is his main passion as he takes the reins of a program that gave him a foundation of character and Christian leadership during his collegiate years.
Morrison was formally introduced as the third head football coach at Shorter University during a press conference Thursday afternoon. He is the first former player named to the position.
“I want to reshape this university. I want to bring the culture back. I want to bring the concept of relationships to the forefront, and bring and build men of character,” Morrison said. “Because I think that we’ve seen some changes in the last couple of years, and if we can build men of character, Christian men of character, this program will succeed not only on the field, but with these men throughout their lives.”
Shorter, an NCAA Division II school and a member of the Gulf South Conference, hasn’t won a football game since 2015 and was 0-22 under previous head coach Aaron Kelton, who was let go after two seasons at the helm. Morrison was on the inaugural Shorter team in 2005 headed up by veteran coach Phil Jones and became an all-conference offensive lineman during his four seasons.
Recently hired athletic director Tony Lundy was the offensive coordinator during Morrison’s time on the team.
He has been an active member of the school’s Gridiron Club and was a part of creating the Shorter Football Lettermen Club, a group of past players which presents a scholarship to a Shorter student athlete each year.
“I appreciate this amazing opportunity,” Morrison said. “I’m here for the Hawks, and I’m home.”
Gulf South Conference Commissioner Matt Wilson attended the press conference and welcomed Morrison to conference on behalf of its member institutions. Shorter was a member of the NAIA and the Mid-South Conference when Morrison played. Wilson relayed some advice to Morrison and Lundy about taking over a program and athletic department.
“Think about yourself as you’re on a cruise liner. How long does it take a cruise liner turned around the right way?” he said. “Typically slow and steady. That’s been my mantra for the first four years in the Gulf South, to see that culture change. And big changes take a little bit of time, so you have to be patient with yourself.”
Morrison said today is officially his last day on the faculty at Kennesaw Mountain High School, where he has spent the last two seasons on the football coaching staff, but he has already been busy getting things in place for his start as Shorter head coach.
“So we’re working on hiring a staff, and we should have that complete by the end of next week,” Morrison said. “Then after that comes recruiting, which I’ve been doing while continuing to work.”
He said he has an offensive coordinator selected and is meeting with defensive coordinator candidates this weekend. He has also been evaluating 90-95 recruiting prospects.
While he has been working in high gear to get his time as the Hawks’ head coach off to a good start, he knows that there are problems that need to be addressed.
“You fix those issues, and you adapt,” Morrison said. “And that’s one of the things that we’ll have to do here is adapt to what we have and what we can bring in.”