June 8, 2009

Morris talks MVP performance

James Morris headed to the Nike Camp in Champaign this weekend, not looking to generate more interest in his recruitment. The future Hawkeye was simply looking for a little competition against some of the best players in the Midwest. He got that and more as the Solon native walked away with MVP honors among a very talented group of linebackers.

"It was kind of a surprise. I'm a white kid from nowhere Iowa and I get the MVP award. I was happy to get it, but I was also very fortunate because there were a lot of good players here today," Morris said Saturday afternoon at Memorial Stadium.

The 6-foot-2 and 215 pound linebacker/running back distinguished himself from beginning to end at the Nike Camp. Morris was the best linebacker on the field in drill work and then continued his impressive performance in one on one drills against a very talented group of running backs.

"It was exciting to come out and compete against the best guys in the area and that is what I was hoping to do. I thought that I did a good job today," he said. "It was pretty close to what I expected as far as the intensity and the quality of athletes. I came in kind of nervous, but I was really looking forward to it because I wanted to challenge myself."

As the one on one portion concluded each position coach picked their best player to go head to head in a one play battle. Winner gets bragging rights. Loser gets to do 30 pushups with the rest of the guys from his position group.

It was Morris going head to head against three star running back Austin White from Michigan in a passing drill where the offensive player has a clear advantage. Morris was stride for stride with the talented back until his feet got tangled up on a turn and White made the grab.

"The only way to get better is to go against the best," Morris said. "There were a lot of good guys here today, so there were a lot of opportunities to improve."

The camp setting also provide Morris with the opportunity to spend the day with his fellow future Hawkeye, Austin Gray, who made the trip to the University of Illinois campus from Michigan. The two were inseparable most of the day working at linebacker. Morris said it was icing on the cake to have Gray at the camp with him.

Morris, who won Gatorade Player of the Year honors in Iowa last season, plans to spend most of his summer with his high school teammates, but he will make one visit to Iowa's camp on June 20th with the idea of helping the Hawkeyes recruiting efforts.

"I'm going to Iowa's one day camp on the 20th. I'm going to that one because there are a lot of other in-state guys that will be there and try and get them on board."

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