Zach Morrison has had to say no plenty of times in his football coaching career so far.
The Forsyth Central alum had been offered numerous coaching positions at the college and high school levels, but with Morrison’s commitment to staying in north Georgia so that he could remain close to his family and his brother, who has spinal muscular atrophy, nothing felt quite right.
This particular opportunity was different, though: On Jan. 3, Morrison was introduced as the head football coach of Shorter University, a Division II program in Rome.
“I was pinching myself for about a week after I got the phone call, because it was surreal,” Morrison said last week. “It was so surreal.”
Morrison is a key piece of the foundation of Shorter football: He played on the first team of the history of the program in 2005, played four seasons as an offensive lineman and graduated in 2008. He was inducted into the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 2013, becoming the first football player to receive the honor.
Morrison has worked in the high school ranks since graduating, and most recently was head wrestling coach and assistant football coach at Kennesaw Mountain. The job at Shorter, which made the transition from NAIA to NCAA Division II in 2014, will be Morrison’s first as a head football coach. He recognized that he would face a learning curve with the competition level and demands of the job but said that he was confident in his plan.
“It’s about surrounding myself with good people,” Morrison said. “Because I understand the culture of the university and what they stand for and going after men of character, and that’s players and coaches.”
Morrison had an especially accomplished, varied career at Central. He played center and defensive end for the Bulldogs, earning three all-region honors, finished in the top eight in the state wrestling championship three years, and competed in track and weightlifting for four years.
His family no longer lives in Forsyth County, but he maintains connections there, including Central head coach Frank Hepler and new Denmark High School head coach Terry Crowder, and he plans on going to those coaches for information and mining the county for talent.
Right now, Morrison’s just trying to get through the hectic days ahead, splitting his time between his new duties in Rome – like figuring out the budget and hiring a staff – and the ones he still holds at Kennesaw Mountain, which has to find his replacement.
The task of getting players will be another challenging one, and that’s up next for Morrison after getting his assistants in. He’ll also be thrown into a rebuilding job, as the Hawks haven’t won a game since 2015.
“I'm ready for the challenge,” Morrisons said. “I've never failed in life, just in the sense of totally dropping everything. There's going to be some failure, but I know that I've worked really hard, and I know that people I hire are going to work extremely hard as well, for wins and losses and building men of character.”