Column: Matthew Morrell’s hand-eye coordination is out of this world

Matthew Morrell, who’s 6ft 4, 200 pounds, could be catching passes in football or using his 92-mile fastball in baseball in the future, but there’s another sport that better illustrates his exceptional hand-eye coordination.

“He’s a freak show of a ping pong player,” said baseball coach John Weber. “There is no one who will beat Matthew.”

Last high school year, Santa Ana Foothill’s Austin Overn demonstrated the value of a multi-athlete by being a receiver in football, a standout center fielder in baseball and a 10.49-second 100-yard dash on the lane. Now he’s at USC.

Morrell, who is involved in Oregon State baseball, has the same type of physical and mental condition that can help him achieve a similar result. He helped lead Cypress to a 3-0 start in football. He has 16 receptions for 278 yards and three touchdowns.

“I grew up with all sports,” he said. “I like that. They all come together and use specific movements. My father pushed me to try everything. I will see at the next level what is the best option for me and my family.”

He certainly has the speed to outrun defenders, and his ability to catch anywhere and everywhere has led trainers to use the word ‘acrobatic’ to best describe him.

A week ago he walked over a defender to pinch the ball on the defender’s back and then pulled it over the defender’s head to secure the catch.

“His acrobatic talent is definitely crazy,” Weber said.

Said Morrell, “I like everything about the receiver. Running routes is like an art form. I’m fascinated by how to run routes. I love showing off my athleticism in running, jumping and great catches.”

In baseball, Morrell was a better outfielder than pitcher last season due to his ferocity on the mound. Yes, he throws hard but has learned to pitch for Cypress. In the offseason, he focused on throwing more strikes and gaining better command to earn the coaching staff’s confidence to perform in big games.

Some may have forgotten Morrell this summer because he disappeared. He injured his hip in a bunt fielding in June, forcing him to miss seven-a-side football tournaments and baseball showcases. He came back healthy at the start of football practice in August.

It is impossible to say what he is capable of doing. In a football game against Tustin last season, he rushed for 121 yards and one touchdown, passed 119 yards and two touchdowns, and caught three passes for 59 yards. He can punch too.

“He’s a special athlete,” said soccer coach Rick Feldman.

Weber gives him validation off the field: “If you had a daughter, you would want her to date him. He’s a great kid.”

Morrell recalls how many fans were thrilled last season to see Overn show what a multi-sport athlete can achieve.

“This guy is a crazy athlete who watches him play football, track and baseball,” he said. “He could do anything and it was so cool to watch. Everyone cheered for him because you don’t see that every day.”

Morrell has Cypress fans oohing and aahing, and they haven’t even seen him play ping-pong. He has his own paddle, which in itself is a warning.

“I’m doing pretty well,” he said. “When I was younger, I played every day. It’s kind of easy for me.” Column: Matthew Morrell’s hand-eye coordination is out of this world

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