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HomeTeam 100 spotlight: Kinyatah Morgan’s home, heart remain in Brooksville

When it seemed the defensive back might be uprooted again, Nature Coast coach Cory Johns steps up to offer the junior a place in his family.
Nature Coast's Kinyatah Morgan (ALLIE GOULDING | Times)
Nature Coast's Kinyatah Morgan (ALLIE GOULDING | Times)
Published Jul. 23, 2019

BROOKSVILLE — After years of turbulence at home, Kinyatah Morgan had finally found some stability.

Three years ago, the Nature Coast defensive back moved in with his uncle, Rudy Story. No more bouncing from relative to relative.

On the verge of dropping out in middle school. Morgan’s grades improved dramatically. Morgan once had felt he had an obligation to skip school. He wanted to stay home to take care of his grandmother, who had kidney issues.

“Kinyatah has a big heart,” Story said last year.

But Morgan’s heart had problems too. In fifth grade, doctors discovered he had a murmur. It prevented him from playing football, the sport he loved growing up.

Related: RELATED: HomeTeam 100 football countdown: Players 31-40

Eventually, Morgan was cleared to resume playing. At Nature Coast, he started fulfilling his football potential as a defensive playmaker.

Everything was turning around. Morgan had structure, support.

In April, that progress was put in jeopardy.

Story decided he was moving to Hillsborough County to take a job as a teacher, track coach and assistant football coach at annual state title contender Armwood.

“It was just too good of an opportunity to pass up,” Story said.

Morgan did not want to be uprooted again. All of his friends were at Nature Coast.

Trouble was, there were not many options to stay.

Sharks coach Cory Johns knew of Morgan’s dilemma.

“Kinyatah had nothing else, nowhere to go,” Johns said.

Related: RELATED: HomeTeam 100 spotlight: Return to Lakewood reinvigorates Tre’von Riggins

Johns ended up making Morgan part of his family by gaining legal custody.

“It was a good situation for me,” Morgan said. “I already had a pretty good bond with Coach so it was a pretty easy adjustment.”

Morgan has become a big brother to Johns’ 4-year-old daughter and 1-year old son. Last week, Morgan spent just as much time with his new siblings as he did with his teammates during Nature Coast’s team camp at Webber International.

“It’s like he’s always been here,” Johns said of Morgan. “He goes to family functions. He makes it easy.”

After a stellar sophomore season that included 94 tackles and five interceptions, Morgan is starting to get noticed by colleges. He has offers from Navy, Southern Mississippi and Western Kentucky.

And he still is tackling the books (his grade-point average is above 3.0) as ferociously as he does opposing receivers and ball carriers.

The next two years will be spent trying to find the right home in college, a process made easier because he still has a home in Brooksville, thanks to his coach.

Contact Bob Putnam at bputnam@tampabay.com. Follow @BobbyHomeTeam.

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