NC State coach Dave Doeren confirmed reports Thursday that quarterback MJ Morris will not play again this season. The move will allow Morris to preserve a season of eligibility. Here is what you need to know:
- Morris, a sophomore, did not play in NC State’s first five games and was planning on sitting out the entire season after the Wolfpack added veteran quarterback Brennan Armstrong in the transfer portal.
- With the offensive struggling, Doeren benched Armstrong and elevated Morris to the starting role before NC State’s Week 6 game against Marshall.
- The Wolfpack are 3-1 with Morris as the starter, highlighted by consecutive wins over Clemson and Miami at home. Morris, however, has completed only 55.8 percent of his passes and is averaging a modest 179.8 yards per game with seven touchdowns and five interceptions.
- Eddie Morris, MJ’s father, told WRAL-TV on Wednesday that MJ plans on staying at NC State and will not pursue a transfer in the offseason. MJ will have three years of eligibility remaining.
Making sense of this situation
Morris’ father told WRAL that “no one said (MJ) is leaving the program,” and that he had plenty of previous opportunities to transfer, but the Morris family will have to be prepared for plenty of questions in the future. Barring an injury, it’s hard to reconcile why a starter would willingly want to sit on the bench right after he led the Wolfpack to bowl eligibility if he’s not trying to preserve another year of eligibility.
Doeren said he was surprised by the decision, a sentiment the college football world will probably echo. It will be fascinating to see what Morris does from here and how the locker room responds. — Grace Raynor, college recruiting and SEC writer
What this means for Armstrong
It’s been a funky year for Armstrong. The former Virginia quarterback was among the nation’s best QBs in 2021 under offensive coordinator Robert Anae, and transferred into NC State this offseason after Doeren hired Anae as the Wolfpack’s offensive coordinator. The expectation was that Armstrong, with all of his experience, would reunite with his old mentor and put up big-time numbers for an NC State team that had just lost Devin Leary to the transfer portal. But Armstrong was benched midway through the year and has passed for just 121.4 yards per game with a 58.8 percent completion percentage. The Wolfpack needed a spark and Morris gave that to them. With NC State in a bit of chaos down the stretch, Armstrong will have the chance to end on a high note. He’ll cap off his career with a home game against rival North Carolina and lead the Wolfpack into their bowl game before his eligibility expires. This season can’t have been what he had in mind, but he’s got one final shot at making the most of it these next few weeks.
“Our team has embraced him in this role and we’re rallying around him,” Doeren said of Armstrong. “Super excited to see what he does and this opportunity with his finish. He’s handled this, as (cornerback) Aydan (White) said (Wednesday), like a ‘grown-ass man.’ Couldn’t have been said any better.” — Raynor
(Photo: Lance King / Getty Images)