Before he made his way to West Point, Ryan Morgan was a football star at Ramona High School in Ramona, Calif., population about 20,000. A member of the school’s Class of 2011, his performance on the field and his attitude off it — toward teammates, opponents and the community at large — drew kind words from friends, coaches, administrators and family members.
Those kind words have come under the worst of circumstances.
Morgan, 21, died Sunday night after a motorcycle crash in his hometown. He was wearing a helmet, according to reports. It was the day after he’d bought the motorcycle, his father told the North County Times. It’s the second fatal crash in as many months with ties to the Army football program; former cornerback Mario Hill died in early May in a one-car accident in Kentucky.
A rising sophomore wide receiver at Army, Morgan enrolled in the U.S. Military Academy Preparatory School after graduating from Ramona as a two-sport star — football and track. Judging from the many tributes to Morgan in area newspaper reports, his impact went well beyond the field: The RHS football coach told U-T San Diego that “little kids came to games to be like Ryan Morgan”; the school’s principal told the varsity football team Morgan “was a great athlete, but he was a better person”; an RHS student helping to organize a memorial service to Morgan said he hoped the event would be “reminding us of not only his athletics but how many people he inspired and pushed to be better.”
The memorial, which will feature a friendly football game before more traditional ceremonies, will be held Saturday at the RHS stadium and is open to the public, according to the Ramona Sentinel.