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Isaiah Butler Isaiah Butler BVM Sports Journalist
Semaj Morgan III focused on senior year before joining Michigan

Semaj Morgan III focused on senior year before joining Michigan

WEST BLOOMFIELD, Mich. (BVM) — Being the best is what athletes strive for every day. It’s a continuous grind for one of Michigan’s top prospects, but West Bloomfield’s Semaj Morgan continues to show the nation he has what it takes to play at the next level.

For Morgan, his journey to becoming a top football prospect began at a young age. When he was growing up, NBA star LeBron James played an instrumental role in providing Morgan with the motivation to be great. 

“I really wanted to be a hooper. Once I got to high school, I realized I wasn’t going to be a hooper. That’s when I started taking football more seriously.”

With the love of football continuing to take root, Morgan looked to his father, Semaj II, for guidance. And Semaj II knew that Semaj III had the talent from an early age too. 

“When he was younger, we used to play catch,” Semaj II said. “He could catch the ball [well] at a young age. And what we did was we just got him involved in different sports to see which one he would take to. After playing some flag football, [you could] see, ‘He might be okay,’ and then he was tackling everybody. That led him to play contact football at 6 years old, and as the years progressed, he started getting better. Then he started wrestling and playing basketball, and I was like, we may be onto something. Around 10 he started to really pick up the game. We just weren’t sure how big he was [going to be].”

With Semaj III continuing to grow physically, his competitive drive and confidence on the football field continued to grow as well.

“Personally, I feel like I set myself apart from people before I even step on the field,” Semaj III said. “I’m not the tallest guy, but I’m really athletic…You ain’t got to be big; you just got to play big.”

That’s what Semaj III has continued to do – make big play after big play, and that helped the Lakers win a state championship in 2020.

“We were all a big family,” Semaj III said. “What everybody doesn’t know, from the outside looking in, is that everybody bought into one culture. The way that journey went was rough and bumpy at first. Once we started jelling and coming together as a team and realized we all have the same goals, then you saw we were unstoppable.”

Semaj III continued to build off the championship season. However, COVID-19 had a different plan. With most of the country shut down, recruits like Semaj III were impacted substantially.  

“My freshman year, I didn’t get to go to any summer camps,” Semaj III said. “COVID really impacted my recruiting process, but I feel like it [also] made it better because I got to go out in front of these coaches, and then I got 12 offers in one month.” 

With multiple offers from prestigious colleges, Semaj III continued to dominate on the gridiron. Especially in his junior year, where he caught 61 passes for 1,015 yards and 13 touchdowns. With numbers like it’s your multiple honors where he was named first-team All-State and Offensive MVP.

Alongside his success as a football player, Semaj III continued to grow off the field. His growth and progress were felt by many, including his own mother.

“He doesn’t know, but he’s taught me resilience,” Erika Morgan said. “He’s 5-foot-10, and for many years a lot of people talked about his height. I had someone tell me, ‘Your son will probably play Division II or Division III football.’ His resilience of proving everyone wrong has gone to a heightened level. That’s what he’s taught me, and I’m proud he didn’t give up.”

Simultaneously, Semaj III’s success on and off the field has led him to commit to the University of Michigan. And one could imagine being from Michigan led him to stay home and become a Wolverine. That wasn’t the case.

“Being from Michigan, that’s not really a big part in my decision,” Semaj III said. “I feel like I could’ve gone anywhere and play. I just want to play. When I go to Michigan, I feel like I’ll be up there, and I’ll probably be playing very early. Every time I was up there and I wasn’t committed, they treated me like I was on the team and they treated me like they really did want me. That’s what drew me to Michigan; the family [atmosphere].”

Alongside the allure of Michigan, coach Jim Harbaugh played a significant role in Semaj III’s decision.

“He understands the players,” Semaj III said. “He’s not like any other head coach. He [has] set himself apart by being on the field. It’s not always about being on the field and playing football. That’s something I’m starting to learn. So the relationship [a coach] has with the kids he’s coaching is way bigger than football. I feel that with coach Harbaugh.”

As Semaj III’s prep career draws close, he finds himself as one of Michigan’s top football prospects. With that recognition, he finds himself on numerous lists that have him ranked as one of the top 10 prep football players in the Wolverines state. Despite those rankings, Semaj III isn’t batting an eye at them.

“I used to care a lot about rankings,” Semaj III said. “Every time I step on the field, I put on a show. Whatever they think, they’re going to think. And I’m going to do what I do.” 

“The recruiting process is just different,” Semaj II said. “At the end of the day, a lot of our athletes are chasing stars, hey [are] chasing recognition. As a father, I was probably chasing it too. He’s lined against a lot of five-stars and four-stars, and I can’t remember one time he lost a rep. At the end of the day, we don’t care about rankings. Our goal is to be better and make our team better.”

It has undoubtedly been a memorable journey for Semaj III. It has brought him, his family and so many others great joy. However, he still has a long way to go before he completes his ultimate goal of playing in the NFL one day. But the best thing an athlete like Semaj III can do is take it one day at a time and focus on what’s ahead. That is leading the Lakers back to the state title game. 

“It’s very exciting because not everyone gets the opportunity to play at a high level,” Semaj II said. “But to be honest, we don’t care about that. It’s about our senior year of high school football, and we’re just trying to go out with a bang. We’ll worry about Michigan when we get to Michigan. We are extremely grateful and thankful that he’ll be at the greatest university in the world. But to be honest with you, we’re thinking about high school football.” 

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