Tanner Mordecai is competitive in everything. But if he had to choose, outside of football, he’s most cutthroat in pick-up basketball.
But hoops can wait. It’s football season, and Midway is poised to make some noise during an already exciting time of year in Central Texas.
It’s that competitive nature that sets Mordecai apart from other quarterbacks across the country. Enough so that Mordecai committed to play at Oklahoma over the summer.
“My competitive edge, I think, is what stood out about me to the Oklahoma coaches,” Mordecai said. “I’m a fiery guy and have a passion for the game.”
What drew Mordecai to the Sooners was Lincoln Riley. He’s been a “big fan” of Riley’s for years as the Sooners’ offensive coordinator. Now that Riley has the reins after Bob Stoops’ retirement, Mordecai can’t wait to get plugged into his system.
“The recruiting process was good,” Mordecai said. “It was pretty crazy. Oklahoma just felt like the right place. I’m very excited.”
As Mordecai discusses choosing Oklahoma, his senior season ahead and his passion for football, the rest of his Panther teammates are lined up close by for photo day. The junior varsity team has just left the risers for the team photo in the middle of the field. Now it’s the varsity taking headshots before the team shot later.
“We’re really tight,” Mordecai said, smiling toward his teammates. “That’s what’s so special. We’re all really good friends. We have a good bond. That’s what’s going to push us over the edge this year.”
Mordecai isn’t the only Panther who verbally committed to a Division I school over the summer. Offensive guard Hakeem White committed to Texas Tech, defensive tackle Jaxon Player committed to Tulsa, while offensive tackle Kaitori Leveston is still deciding.
“We’ve got a great senior class,” Midway coach Jeff Hulme said. “We’re not starting from scratch. I feel like the kids know the system pretty well.”
Mordecai feels he’s gotten more comfortable with the system that Hulme implemented in his inaugural season a year ago. As Mordecai was still learning the new playbook, he was also getting used to playing quarterback at the varsity level.
“The offensive scheme is a lot different from the previous one,” Mordecai said. “Then I had to get comfortable with my offensive line and my offensive line had to get comfortable with me. That goes for the receivers as well.”
Mordecai finished last season 98-for-166 for 1,480 yards with 12 touchdowns to five interceptions. He added eight more touchdowns on the ground to go with a total of 506 rushing yards.
“He’s good,” Hulme said after the first day of preseason camp. “He’s doing exactly what he did in the summer. He did great in 7-on-7. He’s a great leader for us in the weight room and running. He picked up today where he’s been all year.”
Playing football for Midway has always been a dream for Mordecai since he started playing the game in seventh grade. Now, he’s playing his final season for the Panthers.
He’s come a long way from the kid who loved watching Tom Brady play on television to helping Midway, hopefully, exceed expectations this fall.