NC State coach Dave Doeren 'surprised' at starting QB MJ Morris' decision to redshirt

Morris took over as NC State's starter in October but wants to redshirt in 2023

RALEIGH, NC - NOVEMBER 04: North Carolina State Wolfpack quarterback MJ Morris (7) throws during the college football game between the North Carolina State Wolfpack and the Miami Hurricanes on November 4, 2023 at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh, NC. (Photo by Nicholas Faulkner/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
NC State QB MJ Morris played in four games after he was named the starter in early October. (Photo by Nicholas Faulkner/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Brennan Armstrong is NC State’s starting quarterback again after MJ Morris’ decision to redshirt this season.

Armstrong opened the season as NC State’s starter and played in the team’s first five games. After NC State scored just 10 points against Louisville to fall to 3-2, Wolfpack head coach Dave Doeren announced that Morris would take over for Armstrong.

The plan entering 2023 was to have Morris redshirt during his sophomore season. And he’s still going to do that. Doeren confirmed Thursday that Morris will redshirt the rest of the season and that Armstrong will get his old job back. In his news conference Thursday, Doeren said he was “surprised” that Morris wanted to keep redshirting.

“As games progressed and time went on, MJ came to me and let me know that he was still thinking about preserving his redshirt,” Doeren said. “I was surprised by that because he was our starter and really didn’t expect that for a starting player to want to sit back down. He said he wasn’t sure which way to go but wanted me to know that was something he was thinking about and talking with his family about. And after the fourth game, he was very decisive and telling me that it was important to him and his family to preserve his redshirt. And so we’re honoring that decision.”

Morris' father told WRAL in Raleigh earlier in the week that the decision for his son to keep his redshirt had nothing to do with an imminent transfer.

"No one said he is leaving the program," Eddie Morris told WRAL. "Nobody said he is leaving the program. If he would have left the program, he would have left in January and he would have left in May. He had plenty of options."

Players can appear in four games and still keep their redshirt status. Morris hadn’t played until he became the starter ahead of the team’s win over Marshall and played in his fourth game in a 20-6 win over Miami on Saturday.

NC State went 3-1 in Morris’ four games as a starter and is currently 6-3 overall and 3-2 in the ACC. Morris finishes the season completing 56% of his passes for 719 yards and threw seven TDs along with five interceptions. Morris didn’t redshirt as a freshman as he was pressed into duty for five games thanks to a rash of QB injuries for the Wolfpack.

Armstrong transferred from Virginia over the offseason and has completed 59% of his passes and thrown for 971 yards with five touchdowns and six interceptions. NC State plays at Wake Forest on Saturday before games against Virginia Tech and North Carolina to close out the season.