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Morris a versatile, passionate football recruit

BY AMIE KIEHN | FEBRUARY 02, 2010 7:30 AM

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Eight minutes to 7 p.m., and James Morris’ voice is barely audible. His words are buried by the deafening sound of a bustling crowd’s cheer and a pulsating loud bass echoing through Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

A member of Iowa’s 2010 football recruiting class, the senior at Solon High School is dutifully observing another passion — wrestling. With the Iowa Hawkeyes facing Penn State, Morris didn’t want to miss out watching the legendary program perform.

Currently ranked No. 1 in the 215-pound weight class for the Spartans, Morris said wrestling has etched the 6-2 athlete physically and mentally to become a collegiate linebacker.

“The physical nature of wrestling, body control, knowing how to keep a low center of gravity, being explosive in small areas — those things transfer over to football pretty directly,” he said.

Last year, Morris finished fourth at the 2A Iowa state wrestling championships, and he ended the season with a 41-2 record. He is determined to return to the state meet again this season.

Given Morris’ record for qualifying for state competitions in each of his three sports (football, wrestling, and track) the last two years, it’s not a lofty goal.

“He is a versatile athlete. There is no question about it,” said Kevin Miller, head football coach at Solon High. “He brings so many different dimensions to our program. He leads by example because how he plays the game. He plays hard. He plays physical. He’s tough and hard-nosed and that rubs off on the players.”

Morris’ pure athleticism to compete in diverse sports made him a desirable recruit from the beginning.

“We knew right from the start [of Morris’ talent],” Miller said. “We saw him as an eighth-grader and came to a few of our camps, and it was pretty apparent at that time that he had some special abilities.”

Because Solon is only a short trip from Iowa City, it didn’t take the Hawkeyes long to offer him a spot with the Black and Gold. Morris’ dad is also the longtime equipment manager for the Iowa football team.

He committed to the Hawkeyes his sophomore year, 2008, because Iowa is known for the style of football an athlete such as Morris can excels in. Although recruited as a defensive player, Morris ran for 2,256 yards for 40 touchdowns as a running back this last season.

“[The Hawkeyes] play the kind of football I like, which is run-oriented, and then their defense is oriented around being physical and being tough,” Morris said. “Those are things I look for in a football team. That appealed to me and was something I wanted to be apart of.”

After committing to Iowa, Morris didn’t renege on his determination to improve over the next two years, and Miller found that to be most telling of Morris’ character.

“To his credit, he’s kept persevering, year in and year out, kept demanding more of himself and improving,” he said. “Let’s face it, he could have very easily rested on his laurels after his junior year. He’s done everything essentially. He won two championships, was player of the year as a junior, yet he wasn’t content or satisfied with where he was at.”

As far as his expectations for the fall when he officially becomes an Iowa football player, he said he doesn’t have any. He doesn’t want to think that way.

“I think if you go in there with expectations, you’ll really only be disappointed,” he said. “I have personal expectations of myself such as, I want to do my best, I want to work hard.

“I have goals. I want to help contribute to the team one way or another, but I don’t have a lot of control over that as far as if they redshirt me or not. My goal is just help the team get a victory however that is possible.”


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