Pick a play from Mesquite High School’s state championship season last year. Any play at all. Whatever play comes up, it is overwhelmingly likely Andrew Morris is on the field.
The nearly 6-foot-1, 215-pound athlete has found the field early and often in his Wildcat career and has two state championship rings to show for it. Opponents, his teammates, everyone knows he’s going to play a lot when he takes the field. The rare time head coach Scott Hare opts to give Morris a break, he can only laugh. He knows his Morris will soon beg and plead to get back on the field as soon as humanly possible.
Morris has the stats to back up his argument, though.
As a linebacker, Morris had about 180 tackles over the last two year and added two interceptions last year as a junior. He was also a big-time threat for quarterback and now Oregon Duck Ty Thompson, catching 116 passes for 1,888 yards and 17 touchdowns over three seasons.
Perhaps the concerning part for opponents? Thanks to a busy offseason of weightlifting, speed training and adding flexibility, Morris is ready for a “scary” senior campaign.
“I am way more explosive than I was than I ever have been in my life,” Morris said. “So it’s, it’s gonna be special. It’s gonna be a special senior year.”
While it’s a lot to juggle – and he may be seeing time at running back this year – Morris has made sure his main focus is on one side of the ball.
“My main priority is defense during the week,” Morris said. “I’ve learned to care more about what’s going on on defense just because I’m quarterback of the defense as middle linebacker. And I need to know what everyone’s doing. All my teammates, what shade they should be in, what stance, all that stuff, what their responsibilities are. If they’re not doing it, I’ll call it out.”
Senior Leadership Goals
Morris will look to make a big impact on the offense as well moving forward. Last year’s group featured a deep receiving corps and Thompson, who could already push for the starting job in Eugene. Morris hopes to lead as a senior the way his quarterback did.
“I (can’t) say enough good things about Ty,” Morris said. “Really, the main things he left behind was just lead by example, and be the hardest worker at all times. And I think that really exemplifies who Ty is. No matter what Ty’s doing, you know, he’s gonna be the hardest worker.”
Despite these strong numbers and big impact he’s made over multiple seasons, Morris would use one word to describe his recruitment: slow.
“I’m getting a lot of interests from schools, but the main thing they’re saying back is they just want to see me in person,” Morris said.
The only issue with that is the dead period has been pushed back to May due to the coronavirus pandemic, meaning college coaches can’t have in-person contact with players at that time.
It’s left Morris, and so many other student-athletes, in a holding pattern where they can only do so much until either in-person contact is allowed or a school offers without necessarily having that interaction.
It’s also tough to display physical changes or agility over video. Players have been trying to get creative, but some coaches trust their own eyes over what’s shown on a screen.
Looking Ahead for Andrew Morris
Despite an anything but usual offseason, Morris does have opportunities to play at the next level. New Mexico, NAU and Idaho have offered Morris, and he’s intrigued at those opportunities.
All three programs have been very effective in recruiting Arizona in recent years. With New Mexico, head coach Danny Gonzales and recruiting coordinator Jordan Somerville have been successful in making inroads since moving on from Arizona State.
“They’re really there to get things brought back up to speed,” Morris said. “New Mexico hasn’t been the biggest program but they’re trying to make it a good, competitive program.”
NAU defensive coordinator Jerry Partridge had been leading the charge on Morris, and the linebacker has felt a connection.
“He’s a great coach,” Morris said. “He’s been telling me about what they’re doing, and I really like it there. Great weather and in my home state, so that’d be a cool fit.”
Idaho, his most recent offer, is one he wants to learn more about, but the Vandals have been able to find Arizona-based talent over the years and put it to good use.
Morris has also received interest from multiple ACC, Pac-12 and Mountain West programs.
Off the field, the linebacker holds above a 3.2 GPA and wants to pursue a degree in business, a field he’s already well-versed in. He paid for his Mustang by buying and flipping shoes and watches over recent years. He’s also unveiling an auto detailing business with his brother that should debut later this month.
Whether it’s on the field or in business, good luck getting Andrew Morris off the field.