New faces on the sidelines

For the Portland State Vikings, spring football practice is just getting started. There will be a number of new players out on the field this coming 2014 season—and a new face or two on the sidelines.

Steve Morton was recently hired as the new offensive line coach for the Vikings. Morton replaced former offensive line coach Brad Davis, who accepted a similar position at James Madison University. Morton’s recent work at Weber State University encompasses only a small portion of his solid resume built over a long-running career in college sports. Morton has spent nearly 40 years coaching professionally since his 1977 graduation from Washington State University.

“We are fortunate to have a guy with not only Steve’s experience, but his energy,” Nigel Burton, Vikings head coach said. “If you are around him, you have no idea he has coached that long. We always try to bring in great players that are better people, but he is a great coach that is a better person. The guys he has coached have so much respect for him. It is tough to replace Brad Davis, but Steve is a guy that can do the job as well as anyone.”

Also joining him on the sidelines will be new tight ends coach Mike Preston. He spent the past two years at Lindenwold as their offensive line coach and running game coordinator. Preston has coached extensively during his career, including at schools such as Yale, Wingate, La Verne, Western Illinois, Ottawa and University of Washington.

“Mike brings a ton of experience to coaching tight ends,” Burton also said. “Originally we interviewed him for the offensive line job, and he was so impressive we had to figure out a way to get him on our staff. He is a great recruiter as well, with good experiences at a lot of places.”

When asked why he decided to return to the Northwest after living all around the United States, Preston said that not only did his wife find a great job in Portland, but she actually played basketball for PSU back in the ‘90s, so it’s a homecoming for her. He said that PSU seemed to be the place that he wanted to further his career, and that “the relationship that I have with coach Burton, coach Towns and coach Morton dates back to 1997. It was a great fit.”

Preston also said that his own personal experience in playing college ball helped shape him as a coach today. He mentioned a coach he had while in school “modeled what it meant to be a professional coach and teacher. He was very detailed and meticulous, without losing sight of the violence needed to be a great football player.” Preston made the decision that his coaching style would reflect the mentor that he had had the privilege of working with.

The Vanguard will be watching these two men closely to see what kind of energy they will bring to the football department. Spring practices are just around the corner.