May 21, 2008

Morris wraps up a busy year

Most high school athletes would love to have a year like James Morris experienced this past year. He was part of a state title winning team in football, made it to the state tournament in wrestling and in track, and the 2010 football prospect received an offer and committed to the University of Iowa to play football. Not a bad year for the sophomore from Solon High School.

"I think the one word to describe it would be busy, but it was a lot of fun too," Morris said. "I had a lot of awesome experiences that a lot of people don't get to have in high school. That is one thing I will treasure about this year is that I made it to state in football, wrestling, and in track. I couldn't ask for anything more."

The 6-foot-1 and 205 pound athlete started his sophomore year with a state title in football and led the way with 110 yards rushing and a touchdown in the victory. But, Morris is quick to give the praise to his teammates, especially the seniors on the squad.

"We had a great team this year. I cannot say enough about the guys on the team and in our program. The seniors get all the credit because they worked hard since their freshman year and we had an outstanding offensive line."

"Matt Morrison was great all season at quarterback and our defense was pretty stout. I think we were 1st or 2nd in the state against the run. Anytime you can play good defense, you have a chance to be successful," Morris said.

But the gridiron was not the only place where Morris found success. He qualified for state at 215 pounds in wrestling. But, his chances of placing were dashed early on after a first round loss to the wrestler who finished 3rd and then was disqualified in his consolation match.

Morris was disqualified due to an illegal slam that wasn't called immediately and action continued until the coach of his opponent complained to the officials.

"It still kind of eats at me because I was beating him and after he was injured, he came back and wrestled and placed 7th. Needless to say, I am pretty motivated for next season."

This spring, Morris ran the 100 and 200, plus he was on the 4 x 100 and 4 x 200 relay teams that qualified for state. While he isn't a burner on the track, Morris feels like the track experience helps in with the skill set needed for football.

"I don't have blazing speed, but I won a few races this year. To me, the game of college football today is about speed and the guys who have it are out for track, so I use it to try and improve my speed," he said.

Along with using track to improve his speed, Morris feels that wrestling also helps in preparing to play football in college.

"I think to be a Big Ten player you have to have toughness and I think wrestling really helps you with that because you have to be aggressive. I think the physical style of wrestling helps you with football and I also think it helps you with learning body control and things like that," Morris said.

Along the way his football exploits earned him a pretty special opportunity, to play football in college at the University of Iowa, a place that is very familiar to Morris. His father, Greg, is the longtime equipment manager for the Hawkeyes and also has a close friendship with Iowa Head Coach Kirk Ferentz.

"My dad is very good friends with Coach Ferentz and we got to their home for holidays. He is almost like a relative in a lot of ways. I like his style when it comes to recruiting and relating to people."

When Coach Ferentz called to let Morris know that he was offering a scholarship, there was little doubt where he would end up playing college football.

"Coach Ferentz gave me a call and I wasn't going to go anywhere else because I was going to be a Hawk," he said.

While recruiting was never an issue he had to deal with, Morris plans to use this summer to improve himself and work on his football skills. With two years left in high school, he hopes to grow another inch and get up to around 220 to 225 pounds by the time he is a senior. He also hopes to make it to a couple of Iowa's one day camps to test himself against some of the top players in the country.

"I am planning on attending at least one of Iowa's one day camps this summer. I want to go to more than one because there aren't a lot of chances for high school players in the state to face really good out of state competition unless it is in a camp. I really want to see where I stand and what I need to improve upon," Morris said.

Right now the plan is for Morris to work at linebacker in those camps since that appears to be his natural position in college.

From there it will be back to Solon High School in the fall to try to improve upon the outstanding results from last year. Somehow you think that Morris just might be able to pull it off.

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