SOUTHINGTON — Austin Morin thinks he’d maybe like to study business when he heads off to college next year.
Nothing specific at this point. Just business in general.
At the moment, as a senior at Southington High School, he is in the business of catching passes.
And when those passes are coming off the assembly line that is the right arm of Jasen Rose and landing in the cash-and-carry hands of Morin, well, it is a profitable enterprise indeed.
“A lot of business,” the receiver agreed.
Here’s what the Southington aerial report shows after two games:
Rose: 24-for-32 passing for 557 yards, 12 touchdowns, 0 interceptions.
Morin: 11 receptions for 268 yards and 5 touchdowns.
Rose has been spreading the ball around. He’s connected with eight different receivers, has thrown touchdowns to five of them.
A diverse business is a strong business.
And yet every strong business has its cash staple, and in the deep stable of Southington receivers it’s been Morin. A threat long, a threat underneath, Morin is averaging 24.4 yards a catch.
“Me and Austin have always had a good connection. He’s definitely one of the best athletes we have on the team,” said Rose. “I don’t think there’s a receiver out there who can make the moves he has or has the hands that he has.”
Morin is not inordinately tall. He goes 6-feet, 170 pounds.
He’s fairly quick — he can go 4.5 in the 40-yard dash — but not blindingly so. The key for Morin is he maximizes these natural resources with hard work and craftsmanship.
“He is the type of the player who has the ability just to make plays and to get open,” said Southington head coach Mike Drury. “He’s fast, too. He’s a 4.5 kid. But there’s a lot of guys who are fast who don’t have the ability, you know? He has the ability to get open, the ability to make the big-time catches.”
Here’s Morin’s self-assessment of his skill set:
“I have some pretty good speed. I’m not the absolute fastest kid, but I think I’m really good at cutting and being quick and getting out of my breaks. I’d like to say I have some pretty good hands. Mainly, I feel I’m good getting out of my breaks and running crisp routes.”
Morin grew up in Burlington. He is in his second year since transferring to Southington. He played his freshman and sophomore years at St. Paul-Bristol, where both his parents and his older brother Reid went.
Reid Morin, in fact, was the leading receiver for St. Paul in the Logan Marchi era.
The younger Morin is now making his mark in a spread offense first installed in Southington by St. Paul coach Jude Kelly back in the mid-1990s. Morin follows a long line of receivers who have thrived in the system, from Mike Prairie, Southington’s original receiving star, to Alex Jamele, state record-breaker in Southington’s CIAC Class LL championship runs of 2013 and 2014.
The Blue Knights, winners of 22 straight, ranked No. 1 in both state polls, have remained bullish here in 2015. All that’s reined them in, quite frankly is sportsmanship.
In their wins over Manchester and Hartford Public, the Knights scored a combined 102 points. They had 64 by halftime and 95 by the middle of the third quarter, when the starters came out.
So, to accurately account, Rose has his 577 yards and Morin his 11 catches and five TDs in the equivalent of little more than a full game.
“When you only play two quarters, you want to get in the end zone on all your touches,” Morin said. “That makes me even more ambitious to get in the end zone.”
Morin was the dark horse wide-out when he arrived in Southington last year. He was the lone underclass receiver among three returning seniors: Jamele, Matt Maxwell and Kyle Borawski.
Jamele went nuts for a second straight year, hauling in 76 passes for 1,032 yards and breaking every school record for career receiving as well as the state record for touchdown receptions in a career (50).
Maxwell (51-830) grew as an offensive force as the season wound toward its championship conclusion. Borawski (45-651) was also a frequent target.
Morin was fourth at 36 catches for 568 yards. The numbers seem pedestrian only when compared to the others. Truth is, he made some of the highlight-reel catches of the year, including a mid-air adjustment along the sideline on a fade against Conard.
“Absolutely, he was making plays last year,” Drury said. “ You go back on film and take a look at [last season], he was open a lot.”
“When we got Austin last year he was our perfect fit for what we needed,” said Rose.
Heading into 2015, Drury proclaimed Morin would have a banner year. He’d put in the offseason work. He’d competed in summer passing leagues and more than held his own.
“He was going against some great competition and he was dominating,” Drury noted. “So we knew he was going to be primed up, ready to go to have a great year.”
Morin had seven catches for 116 yards in the 54-9 win over Manchester on opening night. His 8-yard TD catch drew the first blood of the season.
Morin was 4-for-152 in last week’s 48-17 win over Hartford Pubic. All but one of those catches went for a touchdown. The highlight: an 89-yarder in which Morin caught the ball at midfield and made two cuts to shake three defensive backs.
Now, there’s no question that being a receiver for Jasen Rose, who is heading to UConn to play quarterback, can be an easy business.
“Whenever you come out of your break on a route, the ball’s right there,” as Morin said. “You can always rely on him to look safeties off, do everything he’s got to do, and the ball’s there every time.”
Yet pass-and-catch is a two-way transaction, and Rose can appreciate a partner who consistently holds up his end.
“He runs the post corner: I don’t think there’s anyone in the state who can stop that,” Rose assessed.
“The fade: I don’t think there’s anyone in the state who can keep up with him. His come-backer is one of the best I’ve seen. There’s a lot of things that we can do with him.”
So much so that Rose is hoping Morin can follow him to UConn next year. There’s been some talk with the coaching staff in Storrs. Morin might get a chance to prove himself as a preferred walk-on.
There is also some interest from FCS schools. Either way, Drury said, Morin is a receiver who can play beyond high school.
“He’s ready for any challenge in front of him, I know that,” the head coach said. “He’s got that ability to play some high-level stuff. He can compete. He’s a great receiver.”
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