By Aaron Randolph, VCG Sports Communications
Former pro football player Stephon Morris achieved his dream of playing in the National Football League to creating a football skills academy with his father. Morris played for the New England Patriots and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He is now working for the NFL through Cigna Healthcare as a business project senior specialist.
Morris has been playing football since the age of six. He attended Eleanor Roosevelt High School where he had a very successful high school career allowing him to become a 3-star recruit and listed as the number 64 cornerback in his recruting class. He earned first team all-county, All-League honors and was an honorable mention all-state pick, which led to him contuining his playing career at Penn State University under the late coaching great Joe Paterno and Houston Texans head coach Bill O’Brien. While attending Penn State, Stephon was a freshman All-American, All-Big Ten Honors mention, and a team captain. He was also selected for the Jim O’Hara award, presented to the most improved defensive player. While being enrolled at Penn State University Stephon majored in Telecommunications.
As his collegiate career ended, Morris was signed by the New England Patriots in 2013 as an undrafted free agent. During his first game as a New England Patriot, he tore his hamstring against the New York Giants. Even with an injury, Morris didn’t give up on playing football. He worked for a couple teams and ended up doing a short sting with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. After Stephon realized there was a possibility he will never play football again, he fell into a stage of depression. While fighting the battle of "what's next?", Morris evaluated his situation after having a conversation with former pro football player and current NFL Executive Vice President Troy Vincent. During the conversation, Vincent helped him with preparing for life after football. The transition into life after sports began to look promising for Morris after landing a job with the NFL and Cigna Healthcare. In his job with Cigna, his main responsibilities are to help with the healthcare projects for all 32 NFL teams, as well as the NFLPA. He assists with the total wellness, mental health and the financial aspect of the NFL. He is also a chef that cooks during private events.
“It’s a blessing to be able to give back to people on that side of things.”
Being able to give back to people is something that has always been something important to Stephon. Prime Xample skills academy was started by Stephon and his father, which falls right in line with giving back to the community. The name came from Stephon being the first person at the academy to earn a scholarship and being the prime example of what hard work can get you. His father Roman Morris started the skills academy because he wanted other kids to get scholarships to attend college and help them learn not only the physical aspect of football, but also build up their mental make up for the game as well.
“My dad is big on preparing guys for the transition out of the game and life after football.”
The academy started off with Stephon and his high school teammates to now currently having 130 kids. The most that Prime Xample have ever had attend their academy was 200 and that was in 2014. At Prime Xample, kids will be enrolled in an effort-based academy. As I talked to Stephon’s father he explained some of the things that kids will learn at his academy.
"We teach the details of the position. Which are hand placement, eye timing, pad level, efficient movement, no wasted movement with your feet, loose hips, pop shoulder, and suddenness.”
Those specific courses can help build up the mental toughness that is needed in today’s game of football. The kids that do attend the skills academy will earn how to be young men on the field and off the field. Every Saturday, there is mandatory life skills sessions, during that time students are taught things like how to tie a tie, character-based things like domestic violence, peer pressure, and respect. Roman Morris believes these are some of the things that will encounter on a college campus and in life. Throughout the days at the Academy, Roman Morris brings in other individuals in other professional areas like doctors, police officers, and lawyers. Some of those people can help show the students a positive out look of how their life can look away from sports. Some of the PX alumn are Ken Crawley, Ronald Darby, Sean Davis, Tavon Young and countless others.
Roman Morris, father of Stephon Morris: Prime Xample Skills Academy
The top 34 kids at the academy get to experience a college tour through their enrichment program. Some of the schools they attend are Tennessee, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Rutgers, UConn and other various schools. The kids that are in college get sent $300.00 dollars while they are away at school. If anyone would like to join Prime Xample Skills Academy they can visit the Prime Xample website at https://pxskillsacademy.com. They are located in Columbia, Maryland 9505 Berger Road. Kids as young as eight years old to college prospects can come attend the academy and learn some critical football skills and vital life skills. Prime Xample has been established since 2008. Roman Morris has advice for current football players.
“Start connecting the next part of your life that doesn’t consist of football, we have to make sure that we are using the four years of college to turn the next four years of our life into success. Network as much you can, intern as much as you can, get as much education as you can, communicate as much as you can, and ask as many questions as you can.”
About Aaron Randolph, Contributing Sports Writer
Aaron Randolph was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvannia. He is currently a Class of 2018 Media Studies and Production major at Temple University. Aaron has always had a passion for media and sports production, as well as film production. He is currently an intern for Fox 29 News and producer for a media company called MyNewPhilly. As he progresses throughout his career, he hopes to build a community center for at risk youth and women who have been victims of sexual assault and domestic violence.
About VCG Sports
VCG Sports focuses on providing high-quality career and business development services for athletes on the collegiate and professional level, as well as highligting their achievements and involvement outside of their playing careers. We value the importance of personal interaction and take pride in building long-term relationships with the athletes we serve. Our services are cultivated around creating value and preparing athletes for life after sports.