He can catch, block, run . . . and this season he will even be rushing the quarterback.Fourth in a series previewing top high school players.
There was a time when Morrell Presley of Carson High was a skateboarding, rollerblading, extreme-sports fanatic who enjoyed jumping his bike off hills and riding rails on his skateboard.
Then, at 13, he was reintroduced to football.
Soon after, he became a tight end, and the sport may have found its standard bearer for what a 21st-century tight end should be.
At 6 feet 4, 220 pounds, and with 4.5 speed for 40 yards, the USC-bound Presley is unlike any tight end in Carson history.
"He's the tight end of the future," Colts Coach Mike Christensen said. "He has tremendous athletic ability but can block in the trenches. He can catch and run like very few people."
Presley appreciates his coach's vision.
"In his eyes, he's saying I'm the new model of tight end . . . taller, slimmer, faster," he said. "To me, it's cool."
An average tight end can block or catch passes well. The great ones do both, and Presley seems headed in that direction.
Blocking wasn't always his favorite task, but he kept getting put in with the linemen during practice to encourage him, and he now likes the idea of taking on a linebacker or lineman.
"The first step is big," he said. "You let the defensive player get under you, you lose the battle."
Catching passes has been the easy part. He caught 31 for 496 yards and six touchdowns last season when the Colts made it to the City Section Championship Division final at the Coliseum before losing to Lake Balboa Birmingham, 41-6.
His speed forces teams to cover him with their fastest defensive back. Or they try to have a linebacker hit him before he can get off the line. Either way, he's a target who's tough to stop.
"I don't think there's a tight end like him in the country," Christensen said.
Add the fact that Presley has good grades and plans to graduate early to enroll at USC for spring practice next year means there's a lot to like about him.
His mother, Monika Hawkins, stakes claim to his speed, saying it's from her Hawaiian background.
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