Nazareth's Landon Morris (26) looks for running room after catching a pass during Class 7A playoffs action between Batavia at Nazareth. Nov 16.  Gary E Duncan Sr for Shaw Media.
Nazareth's Landon Morris (26) looks for running room after catching a pass during Class 7A playoffs action between Batavia at Nazareth. Nov 16. Gary E Duncan Sr for Shaw Media. — Gary E Duncan Sr for Shaw Media

Landon Morris has the build and DNA ideal for a future in basketball.

At 6-foot-6, he looks like a basketball forward even in football pads. Morris, a Nazareth junior, played basketball his first two years of high school in Fishers, Ind. His mom was a Miss Basketball in Indiana, and Morris' older sister will play basketball collegiately at Holy Cross.

His future, though, is in football.

Morris made it official Tuesday, making his verbal commitment to Syracuse. Morris chose Syracuse, who offered him earlier this spring, from six offers including Michigan, Iowa State, Toledo, Central Florida and Boston College.

"I felt comfortable with the coaches and all the players that reached out to me before I even committed," Morris said. "My cousin goes to Fordham, so I'm familiar with the area. The coaches that reached out were very nice to me and my family."

Morris, a three-star prospect recruited to play tight end at Syracuse, is part of an ultra-talented Nazareth roster that led the Roadrunners to the Class 7A final last fall. Quarterback J.J. McCarthy is the No. 1-ranked junior in Illinois and committed to Michigan, and sophomore receiver Tyler Morris one of the top sophomores in the country.

Landon Morris last season caught 33 passes for 527 yards, both second on the team to Tyler Morris, with five touchdowns.

He arrived at Nazareth midway through last summer after moving to Brookfield when his dad was relocated.

"It was rough. He liked it in Indiana, his dad got relocated, his sister stayed in Indiana. It was a hard transition. He proved himself quickly but it wasn't easy," Nazareth coach Tim Racki said. "He handled it tremendously."

Morris, joining an offense led by McCarthy, established himself as more than just a receiver in his first year in LaGrange Park.

"He wasn't asked to block a lot at his previous high school. We said if you don't block, you won't play. Sure enough he became our best blocking wide receiver," Racki said. "That might have popped out on tape, the way he mauled people blocking. He is a California-cool type kid, but when he competes on the field he's an animal."

Morris said he was sold by the Syracuse coaching staff as being a different-type tight end than they're used to.

"I could be more of the receiving tight end in their offense," Morris said. "They have more the box tight ends that they've recruited in the past. I can definitely step in and help their run game as well with my blocking, but they also were looking at the receiving aspect."

Morris has been on the Syracuse campus while visiting his cousin at Fordham, but has not yet made his official or unofficial visit. He plans to take his official when restrictions from the COVID-19 pandemic ease up.

The coronavirus has definitely made for a different last few months of the recruiting process.

"I will tell you one thing, there's been a lot of Zoom calls," Morris said with a laugh. "Just staying in contact on phone, that's the biggest thing. Through the whole process I was in group chats with all the offered kids. Me and my family were talking about how the virus could affect the season. We wanted to make the decision. We felt it was the right time."

Now he looks forward to a season with plenty of uncertainty. Assuming football is played, Nazareth figures to be a top contender once again.

"We're staying in contact, keeping the chemistry going and hopefully we'll have a good season," Morris said. "Not sure about the whole season, but wishing for the best."