Ryan Morris

Ryan Morris recently transferred from Purdue to Villanova.

Ryan Morris was having a hard time acclimating to life in Indiana.

It was one of the many reasons that helped him decide to come back close to home. The 2012 Barnegat High School graduate and football player transferred from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., to Villanova over the summer.

"It's a new place and a fresh start so I'm really excited about it," Morris said. "I'll have a new opportunity."

Morris still has a close relationship with Barnegat football coach Rob Davis. Morris called his former coach earlier this year, asking him for advice on what to do.

"I told him to stick it out," Davis said. "One thing led to another and he just felt like it wasn't the same program he was recruited by. They wanted to go with more hybrid tight ends, and it wasn't a comfort zone for him."

Purdue wanted to convert Morris to an offensive lineman. Morris didn't want that.

So Davis offered to help Morris find a new school when he decided to leave Purdue.

One of the first schools Davis suggested to Morris was Villanova, an exceptional academic school in Philadelphia, as well as one that has a winning tradition in football. Morris is majoring in criminology.

Last season, Villanova went 6-5, including 5-3 in the Colonial Athletic Association. The Wildcats are one of the favorites in the conference this season.

The Wildcats are coached by Andy Talley, who has been in charge for 34 years. Much of the coaching staff has been there a long time, too. 

"It's a stable program with a history of winning," Morris said, "so that's a spot where I wanted to be."

Morris listed other factors for the change as well.

The CAA is one of the top Football Championship Subdivision conferences in the country. Morris also didn't develop as good of a relationship with head coach Darrell Hazell, who came to Purdue last season. He was recruited by previous coach Danny Hope.

Morris, 20, will be a junior in college, but is still considered a sophomore in athletics because he redshirted his freshman year at Purdue. He has three years of varsity eligibility left, and he won't have to sit out a year because he's moving down a level in the NCAA.

Having three years at Villanova will allow Morris the opportunity to compete for playing time on the field, if not this season then certainly in 2015.

Davis called him a "prototypical tight end."

"He's a good tight end that is going to be able to play in the box," Davis said. "He's going to be a good blocker, and he's a receiver with very good hands and a big size."

The school is located an hour and a half from where he grew up in Barnegat. Morris said his family is excited to see his games for the next three years.

There are a handful of players on the team from South Jersey to help Morris make the transition.

Other local players on Villanova's roster include Holy Spirit alumni Joe Sarnese, Nico D'Angelo and Jeff Steeb, St. Augustine's Chris Gough, Hammonton's Alex Padovani, Middle Township's Justin Rhinesmith and Millville's Ed Shockley.

Contact John Russo:

609-272-7210

@ACPress_Russo on Twitter

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