Introducing this week's Man of the Hour: Stephen Morris
Is there any question who this week's Monday Man of the Hour is? Of course not, it’s Stephen Morris. I chose Mike James as last week’s MMOTH and apparently Morris, an avid fan/reader of mine, took it personally because he appeared to take his frustrations out on NC State.
Every week we learn something new about this Hurricanes team, and this week we learned that the man Al Golden has chosen to line up behind center is an absolute stud with unlimited potential.
Stephen Morris made the short trip from Miami Shores to Coral Gables in 2010 after graduating from high school early. He participated in spring practice and was quickly moved to second string quarterback. Partly because back-up QB A.J. Highsmith was moved to defense, and because the thought of Jacory Harris getting injured and having Spencer Whipple as your next option scared the absolute heck out of the coaching staff. So Morris became the understudy.
Young and Eager
Morris would see no action until half way through his freshman year when Jacory Harris was knocked out of the Virginia game with a concussion. The Hurricanes would lose that game, but it appeared as if Morris had won himself a starting job. He played well over the next four games while making mistakes that can be expected from an 18 year old kid.
Randy Shannon would be fired following the last regular season game against South Florida, but Miami still received an invite to the Sun Bowl against Notre Dame. Harris received the start, but it didn’t take long until an ankle injury forced him from the game. Morris would give it his best shot, but it took too long for the offense gel and the Hurricanes were defeated by the Irish 33-17.
The 2011 season started out much different for Morris. He got the starting nod in the opener against Maryland due to Harris’ team imposed suspension for his participation in the Nevin Shapiro debacle. Morris played well, but with the game on the line he made a critical error, throwing an interception that was returned for a game clinching touchdown for the Terrapins.
Harris would get his job back in week two, and Morris was relegated to his familiar role of sideline assistant, but this was important as it showed Morris that Al Golden was not the type to give up on any player. Even one as highly criticized as Harris had been his entire career. Oddly enough, Morris seemed to be more enthused about his level of participation than back-up QB’s tend to be. Many times during the 2011 season he was the first player to greet Harris as he came off the field, offering support and appearing genuinely excited to see him play well.
Spring practice for the 2012 season arrived and Morris was forced to sit out of all contact drills because he was healing from minor back surgery. Sophomore transfer Ryan Williams took most of the snaps with the first team during the spring and played well, creating a legitimate quarterback battle heading into fall practice; or so it was thought, because it didn’t take long for Morris to prove he was the man for the job. Players and coaches raved about his leadership ability, and the team seemed to have a faith in him that hasn’t been present on the Hurricanes roster in over a decade.
Stephen carries himself with a smooth confidence that overflows to the rest of the players on the offense. He doesn’t ever seem to be out of control or upset, and yet there is a sense of urgency in everything he does. Much of this comes from his own personality, but Morris himself admitted in the post-game press conference after the NC State game that the time he spent watching Harris was the most important factor in getting him to the point where he is now: the UM and ACC record holder for single game passing yards at 566 (set against NC State).
Monday Man of the Hour >> Senior Canes RB Mike James, Gritty and Determined