Westfield WR/DB Taylor Morin (Photo: Joe Barnes/recruitNoVA)
Taylor Morin earns the U.S. Army Pro Football Hall of Fame National Excellence award
by Jim McGrath, recruitNoVA
Westfield junior Taylor Morin added another accolade to his growing collection of honors, and this one puts the standout cornerback and wide receiver in the national spotlight.
Morin was one of 25 athletes nationwide selected for the U.S. Army Pro Football Hall of Fame National Excellence award. Founded in 2012, the award, as noted in its literature, “seeks to highlight the nation’s top sophomore, junior and senior high school athletes who exemplify similar strengths to that of United States Army Soldiers, and who not only excel athletically, but who also excel academically and are active in their communities.”
“The Army is proud to honor this group of outstanding student-athletes, with the Pro Football Hall of Fame, as the 2018 Award for Excellence finalists,” said Elizabeth Wilson, deputy assistant secretary of the Army (marketing), in a press release. “Like Army Soldiers, these students have shown not only a relentless drive to succeed for themselves, their families and their schools, but also to serve. The Army congratulates the finalists on this distinction, as well as those who have helped them to achieve their goals.”
“The Award for Excellence program celebrates the achievements of extraordinary high school-aged individuals who will shape the future of our country,” added David Baker, the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s president & CEO, in the same release. “The Pro Football Hall of Fame appreciates the U.S. Army’s support and commitment in shining the light on the values shared by these great young people and our Hall of Famers.”
Amazingly, Morin, who caught 51 passes for 841 yards and eight touchdowns for the 6A state champions, isn’t the first Bulldog to be honored by the awarding committee.
“I became aware of the award two years ago, when Kevin Petrillo (former All-State linebacker from Westfield) was selected,” said Morin, who also snared 11 interceptions last season, including two in the state championship win over Oscar Smith. After talking with Petrillo about the application process, Morin decided to take a shot, and completed his package in January. To his surprise, it only took a month before his award notification came through the mail.
“A pretty quick turnaround,” said Morin.
There are three main criteria which applicants must meet for selection. First, students must be in their sophomore, junior, or senior year of an accredited high school, and they must be a current, active member on a school athletic team and have completed a minimum of one season of play.
Secondly, a 3.5 grade point average (on an unweighted scale) is the minimum required for acceptance, and each applicant must write an essay of 500 words or less, defining the habits of Excellence that they have experienced.
An applicant must also participate in volunteer community service with any non-school or non-work-related organization, and also receive three letters of recommendation.
Morin did not have to change any of his habits to meet the qualifying standards. He currently sports a 4.1 GPA and has set his sights on engineering as a future college major and career. Along with excelling in football, the 6-foot, 170-pounder also played guard for the 16-10 Bulldog basketball team, which finished its season two weeks ago.
On the volunteer level, Morin serves two organizations. First, he works as a coach with the Southwestern Youth Association – a position that keeps him involved with his younger brother’s athletic teams. And through Westfield, he is also involved with Our Neighbors Child, where he helps to wrap and deliver holiday gifts for local children.
His three letters of recommendation came from Westfield math teacher Shana Mortensen, Bulldog defensive coordinator Jon Shields, and an executive from SYA.
Morin will be recognized in two separate ceremonies. The first will take place at Westfield on April 12th. For the second, which will take place just before football camp on August 2-5, Morin will have to travel. However, he looks forward to making the trip to Canton, Ohio, where he and the other 24 recipients will convene for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Week. The group of finalists will be honored throughout the festivities, including at the Hall of Fame Game, which marks the beginning of the NFL preseason.
There’s a special reason why Morin, as a cornerback, and ardent Philadelphia Eagles fan, looks forward to the Canton ceremony.
“I’m looking forward to seeing Brian Dawkins (Former Eagle, and 2018 Hall of Fame enshrine) get his gold jacket.”
While Dawkins’ career has reached its climatic end, Morin still has a lot of ball to play. He recently received an offer from UMass, and counts Michigan State, Clemson, South Carolina, Temple and Wake Forest among the other schools who have been in contact. Several Ivy League schools and service academies have also expressed serious interest.
For now, Morin, fresh from the hardwood, begins the spring phase of his training routine.
“I’ve been working out with Coach Kavanaugh (Justin, of the Sport and Speed Institute in Chantilly), and waiting for practice to begin. It’s a long way off.” In the meantime, his weekends will be filled with spring camps and Junior Days, and soon, the defense of a third state title for Westfield, followed by a major college signing for Taylor Morin.
– Jim McGrath