August 21, 2008

Morrison: Playing with 'chip on my shoulder'

One of the big surprises of Arizona State's fall camp came at running back, where freshman walk-on James Morrison has made a big impact, including 87 yards on 10 carries in the team's Tontozona scrimmage.

Morrison did not receive any scholarship offers coming out of Phoenix St. Mary's High School last year despite being a full academic qualifier.

He said he suffered a torn meniscus in the first game of his senior season and fractured a bone in his foot in the sixth game, yet played the entire schedule, rushing for over 800 yards.

The injuries perhaps hurt his productivity, Morrison said. Additionally, Morrison the offensive system at St. Mary's didn't particularly help his recruitment, as the 5-foot-11, 220-pounder is primarily a between-the-tackles runner.

"The Wing-T scheme did require a lot of getting around the corner and that's not what I like to do," Morrison said. "I had a couple of big games but my stats weren't as good as other names like Ray Polk and Covaughn Deboskie. My name really didn't get out there because of stats."

One of Morrison's teachers attempted to help the running back get a scholarship to Arizona, but it never came to fruition.

"He said he had some pull there (at UA), Morrison said of the teacher. "He said he got my name out there but it's as far as I went. I wanted to go to UA but I asked them what their running back situation was and they pretty much told me the same thing as ASU. So I felt more comfortable with ASU."

Morrison said he wasn't discouraged by not receiving any offers, and decided it would be better to attempt to earn a scholarship at a major conference school near home than to go elsewhere.

"It was pretty easy (to select ASU) because I didn't want to go to a smaller school," he said. "I talked to a lot of smaller schools, like D-II and D-III and JUCO. But my family and coaches, they told me that I'm D-I potential, so why settle for less? [ASU is] close to home; I felt good with the coaches, had a good relationship, so I came here."

With a crowded backfield, the Sun Devils should have the luxury of redshirting Morrison, who will likely be in the mix for playing time next year, after Keegan Herring has departed.

A rugged ball-carrier with quick feet and nice vision, Morrison brings something to the position that ASU doesn't have a lot of, outside perhaps Shaun DeWitty.

"I'm physical but then again, I'm not just a bruiser," he claimed. "I can get outside. I have a little speed. It's kinda like, pick your poison? What do you wanna do? I like the physical style. A lot people don't have it over here."

Being overlooked by so many colleges is something that serves to motivate Morrison.

"I wasn't surprised, but I held a grudge ever since that I didn't get a lot of recruiting help from my coaches and stuff like that," said Morrison. "I just said 'I'm gonna do what I gotta do to get where I got to get.' If I had to walk-on somewhere I'm gonna show everybody that I can play at this level.

"I'm holding a chip on my shoulder for every school that didn't recruit me."

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