It’s time for Dylan Morris to prioritize his career.

We’ll see which one.

Morris — a 6-foot, 197-pound junior from Puyallup — started 15 games under center in 2020 and 2021, before surrendering his spot to Indiana transfer Michael Penix Jr. Penix, of course, produced one of the most prolific seasons in Husky history — throwing for a program-record 4,641 yards with 35 total touchdowns and eight interceptions, while leading Washington to an 11-2 turnaround.

On Dec. 4, Penix shocked his team and shook the Pac-12 by announcing a return for a sixth season in 2023.

But where does that leave Morris?

The former Graham-Kapowsin standout and four-star recruit has thrown for 3,497 yards with 24 total touchdowns and 16 interceptions in 22 career games (and 15 starts). But with just two seasons of eligibility remaining, and little opportunity to pass Penix next fall, Morris is a prime candidate for the transfer portal.

Unless, of course, he prioritizes a prospective coaching career.

“[Starting] is definitely a priority. I want to play,” Morris said prior to Washington’s 27-20 Alamo Bowl win over Texas. “But for me too, seeing this offense and the developmental piece as both a player and with the career I want to pursue in coaching, I feel like I’m in a really good spot here. My dream of wanting to be a Husky my whole life is definitely something [real]. I want to end my time here and also pursue [a career] with this coaching tree, and try to be learning from underneath [offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Ryan] Grubb and the rest of the coaches for the career after football. So I’m really trying to set myself up for that.

“So obviously playing is a priority. Because I’ve got two years left and I want to make use of that. But like I said, I’m really trying to set myself up for life after that. That’s a priority as well.”

Soon, we’ll find out which priority wins. The current transfer portal window, which allows players to move schools without sacrificing a season of eligibility, closes on Jan. 18 (though a second window stretches from May 1-15). And even with Penix, Washington finds itself in a precarious position, as four-star freshman Lincoln Kienholz’s Ohio State flip leaves UW with just three scholarship quarterbacks entering the offseason.


And of those three, Morris and redshirt sophomore Sam Huard — a former five-star recruit who appeared in just one game as the No. 3 option this fall — are significant transfer risks, considering Penix’s vice grip on the starting spot.

On early signing day on Dec. 21, UW coach Kalen DeBoer said “we’re comfortable with three [scholarship quarterbacks]. I would be much more comfortable with four. But I know in today’s day and age it’s hard to have four on the roster.

“We were going into the recruiting process thinking that Mike [Penix] would be gone, when you look at the timeline of things and how it all works. So right now we’re comfortable. We don’t need to just take a quarterback to have a body on the roster. We need to make sure we find the right quarterback that fits the situation, and right now we have three.

“Assuming that’s the situation, we would stay as is unless something else develops. But if it dropped to two obviously we’d have to figure something out at that point. We know Mike’s got a year left. We know Sam’s got a few [three] and Dylan’s got two, so the clock’s ticking for those guys too.”

The quarterback clock is ticking — and multiple decisions loom. UW’s backup role is also particularly important, considering Penix’s first four college seasons ended early with injuries.

While Morris struggled as a starter, he’s been a critical cog in Washington’s offense — as a quality backup and an experienced set of eyes.


“It’s actually really cool. I wish more people could see the interaction between Dylan and Mike, whether it’s at practice or in a game, just talking back and forth about what they’re seeing,” Grubb said on Nov. 21. “There has been growth in that room, and those two guys for sure have grown together. I think Dylan sees all the things that Mike does really well in the offense and is able to execute. I think it speaks a lot, though, to … Dylan’s preparation, honestly, is second to nobody on this team.”

He’s prepared for the opportunity to play.

But that isn’t the only reason.

“I’ve definitely been open with the coaches and letting them know that I’d want to coach,” Morris said last month. “It’s just building those relationships with them, and then I think for myself just personally always working hard and trying to make myself the best player I can be mentally. That’s going to lead obviously into coaching down the road, where I can get myself into a good position to have the mindset to be a coach. I’m trying to work toward that, trying to mimic honestly the work ethic of a lot of our coaches here.”

And yet, for a former starter, it can’t be easy to embrace a less tangibly gratifying role. It helps, Morris said, that “[Penix] is a great guy. That’s the most important thing, seeing how he is each day and how he handles his business on and off the field. When he goes out there and has a bunch of success on the field it’s really fun to see, how he’s elevated our program and this offense.”

The offense has improved — as has Morris.

But considering the fifth-year junior made just seven relief appearances this season — completing 9 of 16 passes for 142 yards with a touchdown and an interception — the latter improvement hasn’t been nearly so public.

“I’m not getting a lot of reps, so it’s a lot more mental,” he said. “It’s a lot more disciplined on my end, where I have to kind of trick myself into getting these reps, because I’m not actually getting them physically. So when I’m standing behind [Penix at practice] I have to key into what the defense is doing, what the play is, what the job is as a quarterback. Me and Sam are standing right behind Mike and really trying to get these mental reps. I think that’s where we’ve both grown.”

For a player, there are limited growth opportunities under center in Seattle.

But for a future coach, opportunity abounds.

“I came in trying to be a business major and all that, and then one [economics] class weeded that out,” joked Morris, a Pac-12 academic honor roll member in 2021. “I was like, ‘I’ll stick with football.’ The middle years in college, that’s when I decided I wanted to be a coach — just seeing the relationships these guys have with us.

“You get that competitive piece still, and I don’t know that I’d ever want that to leave my life. If I can’t play obviously it’s going to end. But if I can mimic that in any way as a coach and really put a game plan together I’d want to keep that in my life for sure.”