by Chris Warner

picIntelligence counts in football. Talent doesn’t hurt, either. Cal tight end Cameron Morrah wants to prove that he possesses the right combination of both.

After a junior season in which he had 27 receptions for 326 yards, Morrah decided to declare early for the draft. He boosted his status with a solid combine, testing in the top five for tight ends in four different drills (including a 4.66-second 40 that he cut down to 4.61 on his pro day).

PD got in touch with Morrah this past week to discuss the tight end position and what makes Cal a special place.

Tell me a little bit about going from a high school defensive end to a college tight end.

Well, the story behind that is, in high school I was playing receiver and defensive end. We had an ex-player that went to my high school named Rome Douglas, he ended up playing at (USC from ’96-’98), and he was close friends with a tight end by the name of Billy Miller. He told me that he could definitely see my future playing at tight end. If I wanted to make it, that’s where it would be at instead of receiver. I loved defense, but offense has just been my passion. After he told me that, my senior season I ended up playing tight end and defensive end, and Cal was one of the schools that let me choose offense or defense, so I ended up going to Cal because of that.

What do you like better about offense?

To me, I love being able to make a big play whenever it’s needed. Defense was always fun for me – that’s where I first started out playing, on the defensive side of the ball – but I just love catching the ball. There’s something about that that gets me.

It looks like your numbers improved as your college career went on. What do you think are some reasons behind that?

I think it was just the way I was brought along in the offense. When I was younger in my career, we had a tight end by the name of Craig Stevens – he’s with the Titans now. So I was more of like the “H,” like the second tight end, just motioning around and clearing the seams for D-backs on the outside…After he left, it just gave me a chance to come out more and become a bigger part of the offense.

Were you happy with your senior year? Do you feel like you could have contributed more, that the offense could have been tailored to you more?

I’m happy with it. The thing with our offense – we had a lot going on with our offense. Jahvid Best, he’s a great back. We had Shane Vereen as well, and the way it worked out was, the running game was able to produce more wins for us. But I was happy that my team was able to utilize me in the red zone. I mean, that was big. I was still able to contribute on a major level for us (Note: 8 TDs in 2008).

Do you think you’ve improved as a blocker?

Over time, I think I’ve definitely improved as a blocker. I’ve become a much better pass-protector over time, and then in the run game, just as far as getting up on the next level guy. I’d definitely say I’ve become a better blocker since I’ve been in school.

Do you hear that that might be a knock on you?

I hear it might be a knock, but at the same time, playing the game, you always have things to improve on. That happens to be one of the things I can improve on, and I’m just going to continue to give it my all.

How do you think your combine went, and your pro day?

I think my combine went really well. I was able to show everybody that I could compete with the best of them, or the supposed best in the country. I feel like I put out numbers that were just as good as theirs, and I was able to show that I could be talked about with them.

What do you see as your best talents on the field?

I would say it’s my ability, my athleticism. Just the ability to stretch fields right now, and as long as my blocking keeps progressing, I’ll become a more well-rounded tight end. That’s definitely a plus, because a lot of people are coming from spread offenses and everything, and I think just coming from the type of pro-style offense that I come from at Cal is a big advantage for me because I have to do both.

Do you feel like your speed has improved, or is that something that you’ve always had?

I feel like I’ve always had speed.

And what about your upper-body strength? Do you think that’s coming along?

My upper-body strength has never really been an issue. I’ve always felt like I was strong in the upper body.

What’s the best part about going to Cal?

The best part of going to Cal, for me, was just being close. My family was able to come to all the games. I was able to see them on a regular basis, and they were able to support my brother and I. My brother was able to come here with me, so that’s been the best thing about coming to Cal.

For students in other parts of the country who might be looking to go there, what do you think Cal offers?

I think it’s a great school, and we’re constantly – the football program – is on the rise. And hopefully pretty soon here they’ll have much better facilities around for the players. I mean, the San Francisco Bay area is a great place to relax and just have a lot of fun. You definitely get to become well-cultured because there’s a lot of different kinds of people up here. It’s going to open you up to a lot of new experiences.

Do you think the education there kind of sets your team apart from other schools you play against?

I would say the education – I mean, I can’t say it sets us apart from every team, because Stanford, that’s our rival, and they’re pretty competitive academically out there, too. But I think it does a lot for us, because we’re able to do a lot with our plays and playbook and everything. I would say that you have to be smart to play the game. You just have to know things…It teaches you good study habits that you transfer from the class to the field as far as being there watching film or just going over tapes. Just doing all the extra things that you need to do in order to be successful on and off the field.

Have you been interviewing with any NFL teams?

I’ve had a few interviews and workouts. A lot of teams don’t really want you to discuss it, so I haven’t really told anybody who I’ve worked out with. But I’ve had a few so far and a few coming up, so I’m just trying to stay in shape right now, continue to work out so I’m prepared for whoever else wants to come and work me out.

All right, don’t say anything, but one of those teams – did it rhyme with “Atriots?”

(Laughs and sighs)

Okay, we’ll go on to something new…How are those interviews going?

They’re going really well. I’m able to project my personality, the kind of person I am, and just what my habits are, things I like to do. And the workouts have been going well, too. I’m able to just show what kind of player I am, so that’s always a good thing.

All right, last question: what do you think is one aspect of yourself that people would be surprised to hear?

One aspect of myself that people would be surprised to hear. Hm. That I can actually be an outgoing guy. A lot of people think that I’m kind of quiet and reserved, but it just depends on the setting, I would say, and how close we are. But I don’t know. I don’t know. That’s a good question from you.

All right, maybe I’ll call you back and we’ll work on an answer.

All right.

Cam, I really appreciate your (returning my) call. Thanks a lot, and good luck.

Thank you. Take care.