February 7, 2010

Act of sportsmanship put in the Super spotlight

MORE: High school teammates now sharing Super Bowl stage | Complete roster breakdown

Cave City (Ark.) High football player Thamail Morgan found himself in the national spotlight last fall for an amazing act of sportsmanship.

Rather than scoring an easy touchdown on the game's final play, Morgan took a knee near the goal line in an act of compassion against a Yellville-Summit team playing in its first game since the death of Kymball Duffy, a player on the team.

Today, the story will be seen by an even bigger audience as CBS will air a segment on the play during its Super Bowl pre-game show. It is scheduled to run at 2:30 EST.

"CBS Sports is going to air a 10-15 minute feature on (it)," Cave City head coach Jon Bradley said. "The focus of the story is on not only Thamail, but also Kymball Duffy, his family, and both schools involved."

The story, first reported by Arkansasvarsity.com, was picked up nationally by Yahoo.com and other media outlets, becoming one of the most talked about high school stories of the year.

It captured the events and emotions of a fall night in Arkansas.

On Sept. 11, 2009, Duffy, a football player at Yellville (Ark.) Yellville-Summit, was killed in a car accident just hours before the team's scheduled game against Salem (Ark.) High. That game was cancelled due to the tragedy.

The following Friday, in its return to the football field after a difficult week, Yellville-Summit played Cave City.

With seconds remaining in the game, and Cave City already holding on to a comfortable lead, Yellville-Summit scored a touchdown. On the ensuing kickoff, the ball sailed to Morgan, who began running up field. He broke several tackles, and ran to the 2-yard line, stopped, backed up to the 5, and took a knee.

Morgan's actions earned him respect, the attention of collegiate coaches, and national headlines - a remarkable turn of events for the senior, an all-state player who transferred from Newport (Ark.) High after off-the-field issues forced him off the team.

Bradley said reporters and production crews from CBS traveled to Arkansas multiple times to gather the information for the story.

"They came down here six to seven times." Bradley said. "They talked to us about Thamail, his background, and how things have changed for him. They also recorded video of Thamail meeting with the Duffy family for the first time."

Morgan had interest from many Division I schools but signed his National Letter of Intent to play football next year at Division II Ouachita Baptist. That, however, may change.

"It was the best option for him, because he was not fully qualified to go Division I," Bradley said. "However, (Ouachita) has given him the option to go to a Division I school if he gets qualified, and they will give him a full release."

For now, though, Morgan, Bradley, and the entire Cave City community will prepare for its second chance at the national spotlight.

"CBS is expecting millions of people to view this story," Bradley said. "I can remember how much publicity it received when (ArkansasVarsity.com) ran the original story that made it on the front page of Yahoo.com. It was unbelievable the publicity the phone calls and emails we received. It was really crazy then, so I can only imagine what things will be like once this is aired on CBS Sports this Sunday."

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