Jamie Morris: Overcoming Adversity
When one thinks of the history of the University of Michigan Football Program, they think of a storied tradition that spans such stars such as Tom Brady, Desmond Howard and now Jim Harbaugh but when one digs deeper into the topic, there is not a star that ever shined brighter than famed-running back Jamie Morris. The irony is that Morris only played at U of M because of circumstance but as we will learn in this article, circumstances can lead to amazing accomplishments.
Morris played for the University of Michigan from 1984 to 1987 and his numbers were amazing. Standing at only 5’7, the historic Michigan Head Football Coach Bo Schembechler famously told Morris that he was too small to play running back in the Big Ten and he only wanted Morris to return kicks but he promised the young player a chance to play running back. The late coach stated that he was lucky he gave Morris the chance because he proved him and the rest of the world wrong. The numbers that Morris produced speak volumes: He is the school’s all-time leader in all-purpose yards for a single season (1,703) and for his career (4,392). With stats such as these, one would think that Morris was the top recruit for the Maze and Blue but nothing could be further from the truth.
“What Almost didn’t Happen”
In speaking to Jake McManus, a University of Michigan football historian, we learn that the school only got Morris by mistake and it was arguably the best mistake they ever made. McManus stated, “The rumor is that Michigan wanted Eric Ball. Now you have to remember, this is long before the Internet so nothing is certain but from what research could be found via the paper newspapers at the time and what the boosters of the era have stated, Eric Ball was the choice. When Ball went to UCLA, the school turned to Morris. Schembechler believed Morris was too small but thought he had heart and an amazing work ethic. He would soon find out that Morris would lead his offense and evolve into a star and is the greatest running back to ever play at the Big House.”
After college, Morris, much like his brother Joe, played in the NFL and he left his mark on the league. On December 17, 1988, while playing for the Washington Redskins, Morris set an NFL record by rushing 45 times in a game. McManus stated, “He took a beating that day. Jamie would not stop and he showed more heart and perseverance than any running back I have ever seen. He truly exemplifies what a “Michigan Man” is supposed to be.”
From 1998-2010, Morris worked in the University of Michigan Athletic Department and was in charge of a campaign whose goal was to raise $100 million by 2008. In addition to being an asset to the athletic department, Morris also is a co-host of a popular radio show on 1050 AM WTKA with Marcus Ray, a fellow University of Michigan and NFL Alumni member. Ray and Morris are known for a cutting edge talk show that has captured the audience in the Michigan area.
The future is very bright for the University of Michigan football program and university and one of the main reasons for this is the influence and never-say-die attitude of Jamie Morris. He has truly beat the odds and exemplifies what it means to be a “Michigan Man.”