WELL, HE DIDN'T GET DRAFTED. To much surprise. But, James Morris did sign with the New England Patriots and you'll like what you'll get:
Confirmed: Iowa LB James Morris agrees to terms with New England Patriots.— Scott Dochterman (@ScottDochterman) May 10, 2014
WHAT'S SO SPECIAL ABOUT JAMES MORRIS? It was probably never a doubt that James Morris would one day be a Hawkeye. His dad Greg has been Iowa Football's equipment manager for decades, so James grew up around the program. Still, he had options -- he was recruited by and received an offer from Stanford. But he was a Hawkeye and he arrived at Iowa as a Rivals three-star recruit and was named the Press Citizen's High School Male Athlete of the Year in 2010. He was a two-time Gatorade Player of the Year and played both linebacker and running back in high school. He rushed for 2,247 yards and 40 touchdowns as a high school senior and he's among the state's career Top 10 all-time leading rushers.
Despite that success running the ball, he was a middle linebacker at Iowa from day one. He skipped a redshirt and began his career as a special teams contributor. He became the starter at middle linebacker after injuries hit the Iowa depth chart hard mid-season. He finished his freshman year with 70 tackles and on several first team freshmen all-American teams.
Morris played in every game but one over the next three seasons. He battled through broken hands and various injuries to record 400 career tackles at linebacker. (He's one of only six Hawkeyes to reach the 400 tackle mark.) He was named a Big Ten Academic all-American three times. He was named second team all-Big Ten by the coaches and media his senior year and he was named permanent team captain following his junior and senior seasons.
WHAT DID HE DO THAT WAS SO GREAT? James Morris brings a high football IQ to the field. He's excelled throughout his career in the classroom and that shows up on the field. He's tough and has played through injuries, showcasing his durability. He'll be a leader and asset to you team.
HOW ARE HIS PHYSICAL ATTRIBUTES? He's a little on the short side at 6'1", but that doesn't hold him back. He doesn't have a ton of straight-line speed, but makes up for it with his intelligence and agility.
|HEIGHT||WEIGHT||ARM||HAND||1ST 40-YARD||2ND 40-YARD||40-YARD OFFICIAL|
|6'1"||241||30 3/4"||9 1/8"||4.81||4.75||4.80|
PRO DAY RESULTS:
2014 Pro Day results: LB James Morris #GoHawks #Swarm2014 pic.twitter.com/D3um5yCQf7— Hawkeye Football (@HawkeyeFootball) March 26, 2014
WHAT ABOUT THE BAD? As we've mentioned, Morris won't be the fastest linebacker on the field. He struggles with coverage sometimes and lacks recovery speed. He's not an intimidating tackler, but he'll get the job done. He did struggle with injuries throughout his career, although he missed little time while playing through them.
WHAT ELSE IS THERE? Iowa plays their games at Kinnick Stadium, named for 1939 Heisman Trophy winner and World War II pilot Nile Kinnick. If there's a modern-era Hawkeye that you could compare to Kinnick as a student-athlete, it's Morris.
Morris, as we noted, earned all-Big Ten academic honors three times while carrying a 3.87 GPA as a political science/pre-law major. He earned a $7,500 post-graduate scholarship by the National Football Foundation and he was recently named a recipient of the University of Iowa Robert F. Ray Faculty Representative Award. He also just recently earned a Big Ten Medal of Honor.
WAS THIS A GOOD FREE AGENT PICK UP? You generally know what you get with an Iowa football player. Morris will work hard on the practice field and do the little things off the field to become a better football player. He can contribute right away on special teams and learn the defense quickly if called into action. He won't be an impact player or starter right away but he should be a dependable reserve option at middle linebacker.