Wayne Morgan made a name for himself by backpedaling. But the former star cornerback now works on the front foot, preparing the next generation for a life in—and after—football. He started up Lights Out Performance pre-pandemic with the intention of getting youngsters in shape while developing skills off the field.

From Brownsville, Morgan was on the fast-track to a glittering career on the gridiron. A four-star recruit out of Erasmus Hall High School, he committed to Syracuse University in 2012 with eyes on the NFL. 

Morgan (left) defends Cincinnati wide receiver Trenier Orr. (Photo by Charles Wainwright for SU Athletic Communication/Courtesy of Syracuse University)

But after Morgan’s freshman year, then-head coach Doug Marrone left for a job with the Buffalo Bills. He ended up playing under three different head coaches throughout his college career and was snake-bitten by a pair of knee surgeries. Still, his raw talent was enough for NFL teams to extend a training camp invite, although he never landed on a 53-man roster. Ultimately, he ended up back in Brownsville. 

“So I decided to start Lights Out Performance Training in 2019 and my first year was a learning experience but we actually did really well,” said Morgan. “I was super confident going into year two, but then COVID struck. So I reverted to online training just so I can keep up with all my clients. I was doing it for free throughout the whole pandemic.”

But things are looking up for him these days. Morgan says this is the best year yet for his venture and hopes to expand into his own facility by the time 2024 rolls around. Beyond the drills, he’s assisting his mentees with picking high schools and showing them a plan B if they don’t make the NFL. 

“What I’m trying to do is teach kids that you can still be around the sport,” he said. “You can still be an agent. You can work your way in and become a coach. You can still work your way in being a trainer [or] learn about the body [and] do sports medicine. What I’m going for now is teaching them entrepreneurship, how to be a leader in the community to build up the community.”
Tandy Lau is a Report for America corps member and writes about public safety for the Amsterdam News. Your donation to match our RFA grant helps keep him writing stories like this one; please consider making a tax-deductible gift of any amount today by visiting https://bit.ly/amnews1.

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