Saluki tight end Dalton Morgan makes full recovery from mystery illness

    Dalton Morgan

    Dalton Morgan
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    Aug. 9, 2013

    By Tom Weber

    CARBONDALE, Ill. - Last September, Saluki tight end Dalton Morgan woke up at 2 a.m. one morning feeling dreadfully ill. His body ached so badly he could barely move.

    Antibiotics were prescribed, and he eventually felt well enough to play a few snaps in that week's game at Missouri State. Soon, however, the fever, chills and nausea returned. Morgan became so sick that he was admitted to Memorial Hospital of Carbondale the following week.

    "My whole system had completely shut down, and the doctors were guessing mono or strep," he explained.

    Tests for both came back negative, however. When his condition continued to deteriorate, he was moved to Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, where they conducted a full battery of tests.

    "They tested me for everything they thought it could possibly be, but it all came back negative," he said. "It was really frustrating, because I'd had a couple of good games and was looking forward to helping the team out. All of the sudden, I'm lying in bed and have to listen to the games on the radio."

    "My whole system had completely shut down, and the doctors were guessing mono or strep."
    Dalton Morgan

    With doctors at a loss to explain the cause of his condition, Morgan spent the next few months essentially bedridden. He lost 35 pounds as his body wasted away from the effects of the illness. Relief finally came when Morgan had surgery to remove a lymph node from his neck.

    "After I woke up from surgery, I felt normal," he said. "They sent it out for tests and they all came back negative. It was mid-November by then, and it was like nothing was wrong and I started feeling normal."

    The fifth-year senior spent the off-season rebuilding his body, eventually getting back to his 260-pound pre-sickness weight. As a precaution, he has blood tests every other month, but has been given a clean bill of health and is back in Saluki pre-fall camp practicing at full speed.

    Morgan is one of a handful of local players from southern Illinois, having played at Du Quoin High School.

    "If you're a boy growing up in Du Quoin, from an early age you're taught that you're going to play football," he laughed. "Everything is about making the playoffs and you better not lose to Pinckneyille."

    After narrowing his college choices to Southern Illinois, Northern Illinois and Eastern Illinois, he settled on Eastern because they were the first school to offer a scholarship. After redshirting his freshman year, he transferred to Southern, where he wished he'd have gone all along.

    Morgan was slated for significant playing time last season before his sickness. In fact, he played in the first four games and made a catch for 26 yards against SEMO.

    A healthy Morgan means SIU can incorporate more two-tight end formations this season. The Salukis already have All-American MyCole Pruitt and sophomore Adam Fuehne.

    "My job is to push those two guys to get better," he said. "We're like a family in that (tight ends) room. We want each other to succeed."

    Morgan is especially excited to play his final season alongside his brother, sophomore defensive end Brandon Williams.

    "If you're a boy growing up in Du Quoin, from an early age you're taught that you're going to play football. Everything is about making the playoffs and you better not lose to Pinckneyille."
    Dalton Morgan

    "I knew he could play at this level when he was a junior in high school, so I would tell him what workouts to do and help prepare him," Morgan said. "Although I missed most of the season, it was great to see him play and not have to redshirt. I'm looking forward to both of us playing this season."

    An exercise science major who is on track to graduate in December, Morgan plans to enter the field of cardiac rehabilitation as an exercise specialist.


    For the third-straight day, the Salukis practiced at Saluki Stadium, due to wet conditions on the grass fields. Southern will have its first full-contact scrimmage tomorrow at 8:15 a.m., complete with an officiating crew. The scrimmage is open to the public.


    Slot WR LaSteven McKinney is having an excellent camp. Best known for his explosive quickness, the 5-foot-9 fourth-year junior has caught virtually every pass thrown his way. If he catches the ball in full stride, he's going to turn it into big yardage.


    G Corey Boemer, cousin of Rimington Award-winning center Bryan Boemer, is developing into a solid interior lineman in his own right. The fourth-year junior played in a reserve role last season, but he's now the starting right guard while heralded redshirt freshman Jake Notario recovers from injury. Boemer, who can also play tackle in a pinch, is a valuable commodity on a Saluki O-line that is searching for quality depth.


    The play of the day was a 70-yard bomb from QB Kory Faulkner to WR Josh Sulllivan, who got rare separation against SIU's talented secondary. QB Ryan West also completed a couple of deep posts -- one to WR Israel Lamprakes and another to TE Dalton Morgan.