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College football: Iowa’s defensive line coach retires

IOWA CITY – Reese Morgan, a member of the University of Iowa football coaching staff for 19 years, has announced his retirement. The announcement came Wednesday from head coach Kirk Ferentz. Morgan will step away prior to spring practice.

“On behalf of our coaches, players and fans, I want to wish Reese and Jo the best in this well-deserved retirement,” said Ferentz. “Always the professional, Reese’s entire life has been dedicated to education and coaching. I am thankful for the opportunity to work alongside him and appreciative of what he has meant to our players, our program, and the University of Iowa.”

Morgan, 68, has coached Iowa’s defensive line for the past seven seasons. He previously coached Iowa’s offensive line (2003-11) after serving as recruiting coordinator and tight ends coach (2000-02).

Iowa has posted a 151-91 record over the past 19 seasons with Morgan on staff, appearing in 16 bowl games, including 11 January contests, and the 2015 Big Ten Conference championship game. Iowa earned a share of the Big Ten title in 2002 and 2004. The Hawkeyes have finished in the Big Ten’s first division in 16 of the past 18 years.

“A genuine and authentic person, Reese handled every challenge we threw his way in magnificent fashion. Every player and coach who had the opportunity to work with Reese Morgan is much better for it,” said Ferentz. “It’s like losing a great player – Reese’s shoes will be hard to fill.”

Throughout his career, Morgan has coached three Outland Trophy winners (Chad Hennings at Benton Community High School, Robert Gallery, Brandon Scherff), and John Mackey Award recipient Dallas Clark. Four of his players have been named Big Ten Player of the Year at their position and three have earned consensus All-America honors.

“Coach Ferentz took a chance on me and I have nothing but appreciation and gratitude for the opportunity to be part of this wonderful Hawkeye program – it’s been an amazing experience,” said Morgan. “I’ve always felt that we learn as much from our players as they learn from us. They teach us lessons that go beyond football. And when a player arrives lacking a little maturity and confidence but leaves as a young man prepared to tackle life, that’s the real reward for me.”

Kelvin Bell, a member of the Hawkeye coaching staff for the past seven seasons, will serve as interim defensive line coach during spring practice. Bell has assisted Morgan with the defensive line for the past three seasons while also serving as recruiting coordinator.

Hennings is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame. Former Iowa kicker Nate Kaeding, who earned consensus All-America honors and enjoyed a lengthy NFL career, was coached by Morgan at Iowa City West High School.

Seven players coached by Morgan have earned first- or second-team All-America recognition. Nine earned first-team All-Big Ten honors and 14 were named second-team All-Big Ten. Thirteen of Morgan’s players have been selected in the NFL Draft, including five first-round selections. Three have gone on to earn NFL All-Pro recognition.

Morgan joined the Iowa staff after eight years as head coach at Iowa City West. West won state Class 4A (largest class in the state) titles in 1995, 1998, and 1999. Morgan left the program with a 26-game winning streak.

From 1994-99, Morgan’s West teams were 62-7, while his overall record at West was 67-20. He also served as Assistant Principal and Dean of Students at West. Morgan was a teacher (1973-92), assistant football coach (1973-77), and head football coach (1978-91) at Benton. He led Benton into the state playoffs on three occasions.

Morgan totaled 146 career prep victories and is a member of the Iowa High School Coach’s Hall of Fame. In October, 2018, Morgan was listed by the Des Moines Register as one of the 50 Greatest High School Coaches in state history.

Morgan is a native of Lorain, Ohio, where he lettered three times in football and one year in track and field at St. Mary’s High School. Morgan was a four-year letterman (linebacker) at Wartburg College and was team captain as a senior in 1971. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Wartburg and a master’s degree from Northern Iowa.

Morgan and his wife, Jo, have been married for more than 40 years. The couple have two daughters, Jessica and Caitlin, along with granddaughters Morgan and Hayden, and grandsons Cade and Jace.

“My wife, Jo, and our family have been so supportive over all these years allowing me to enjoy the sport that I love,” Morgan said. “I can never thank them enough. Now it is time for me to give back to them.”

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