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Gophers QB Tanner Morgan a finalist for national community service award

Morgan partners with Minnesota hat company to provide stocking and baseball hats to raise money to fight cancer.

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Minnesota Gophers quarterback Tanner Morgan gives a fan his sweatband after the Gophers beat Rutgers Oct. 29, 2022, at Huntington Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
John Autey / St. Paul Pioneer Press
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Tanner Morgan represents the perfect pitchman for Kapps for Cancer.

The veteran University of Minnesota quarterback is a well-spoken leader with first-hand experience in how local nonprofit Angel Foundation can benefit families fighting cancer. Morgan’s father Ted died of brain cancer in July 2021, and Tanner saw how his family could use similar resources and support.

Morgan has partnered with local hat company Kapps Customs to provide co-branded stocking and baseball hats to raise money for the Angel Foundation. It’s one of many ways Morgan has given back to the community during his six years at the University of Minnesota.

Morgan is one of three finalists for the Wuerffel Trophy, an annual award that goes to a college football player for his outstanding community service. Morgan, Dillan Gibbons of Florida State and Patrick Fields of Stanford will be honored at the College Football Awards show Thursday, and the winner will be announced Feb. 24.

When Ted Morgan was diagnosed with cancer, Tanner saw how his mother, Pat, and siblings were stressed, grieving and could use help.

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“I realized how important it is for people who have a loved one with cancer to feel a sense of community and have resources available,” Morgan told the Pioneer Press in October. “This is something I’ve been looking forward to be able to help. … It’s something that’s pretty cool.”

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Tanner Morgan, Minnesota Gopher's quarterback
University of Minnesota

Angel Foundation in Mendota Heights has been helping families in the Twin Cities area for 21 years with emergency financial assistance grants, education, and programs for social and emotional support. Angel Foundation said it has expanded to four counties just outside the metro area. Kapps Custom is out of White Bear Lake.

“It’s Minnesota-based, which is awesome, and they do a lot of really good things for the state,” Morgan said. “I’ve made fantastic relationships with the people here and realize the work that they do is pretty cool, and has a lot of power, a lot of meaning and purpose behind it. They’re changing lives.”

Morgan is able to put himself behind Angel Foundation’s cause with the introduction of name, image and likeness (NIL) marketing opportunities allowed by the NCAA since 2021.

“Without NIL, you’re not able to do this opportunity here,” Morgan said in October. “We’re not able to sell the hats to put my name on it, and come up with this campaign to help raise money.”

Morgan has been searching for ways to honor his father and support the fight against his father’s type of cancer, Glioblastoma. Morgan’s graduate school capstone project was to create a foundation in honor of his father.

“We have the bones (of a foundation), but, man, there is a lot of work, and I don’t have a ton of time,” Morgan said during the Gophers’ midseason bye week.

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Morgan has been busy this fall amid his final collegiate season. His final football season hasn’t ended the way he wanted with injuries sidelining him the final few games; his status is unclear for the Pinstripe Bowl on Dec. 29. Morgan has practiced “a little bit” but remains under the guidance of the team’s medical staff.

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“He’s done a lot for our program,” head coach P.J. Fleck said Tuesday. “I don’t think people value enough what Tanner Morgan has done for the University of Minnesota. Sometimes we always focus on what somebody hasn’t done instead of what they have done.”

New starting quarterback Athan Kaliakmanis has credited Morgan for the deep level of support the senior has shown the redshirt freshman.

“I can’t even put into words what that guy has done for me, every day since I first got here,” Kaliakmanis said after he stepped in for Morgan in the 20-13 comeback win over Nebraska on Nov. 5. “He has gone out of his way to meet with me. He is texting me to meet with him. He has done so much for me in my football life. I just couldn’t be more thankful for him.”

Fleck points out that Morgan is the program’s all-time winningest quarterback with a 33-14 record as a starter, including 6-2 this season.

“He’s one of the best people you’ll ever meet,” Fleck said. “He’s going to be a football coach here very shortly, I’m sure. I think that’s going to be his path. Whenever he decides to do that, he’s going to make this profession way better.”

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