SOUTH BEND -

For three years, Daigien Morgan was busy playing quarterback for Washington, leading the Panthers to the state championship game in 2011.

He gave little thought to the Riley football program.

"They never win games," Morgan said of his impression of the Wildcats.

That was until Morgan transferred to Riley last February, and helped ignite a turnaround at the South Bend school.

"There's great kids. There's a lot of size and talent here," said Morgan, who now lives a few blocks from his new school. "Year after year they're not using their talents because there was little or no leadership at all."

Morgan stepped into that leadership void almost immediately.

"I can remember his second day, getting on a couple of the linemen when we were doing a stair workout," third-year head coach Brian Stultz said. "Pushing them and kind of getting them going to finish strong."

"I got on him and then I talked to him like we were brothers," Morgan remembered. "Right now we're playing really well and we're just a brotherhood here."

Morgan is now a captain and two-way starter at QB and safety. Riley is on track for its first winning season since 1997. At 4-3 the Wildcats have already equaled their win total from the last two years combined (4-17).

"The kids are flying around, they're having fun and that's the name of the game right there," said Stultz. "They're believing in what they're doing. They're getting lined up right and they're executing."

Morgan, a dual-threat QB, has adjusted from a pass-happy offense at Washington to a run-oriented attack at Riley.

"It's a lot different, coming from passing for 400 yard games and all that to passing sometimes 50 yards or less," said Morgan.

In fact, Morgan has passed for a total of 449 yards and 5 touchdowns through seven games this season. He is second on the team in rushing with 624 yards (6.4 yards per carry) and 8 scores.

Running back Thomas Capers has a team-high 748 yards (7.0 ypc) and 4 touchdowns.

The system does not matter to Morgan though, as long as he's playing the game.

"Football is my life, my love, my everything," said Morgan.

And Stultz is pretty happy to have the senior in a Riley jersey.

"Better to have him than play against him," the coach said.

Morgan and the Wildcats travel to undefeated Penn on Friday.