, a 6'1", 190-pound wide receiver came to BYU
via Mississippi's Itawamba Junior College a year ago and looked to contribute mightily to BYU's offense last season. Unfortunately, Morris went down with a severe leg injury early in two-a-days just prior to the start of the 2004 season.
"It was the worst thing ever," recalled Morris. "Just sitting there watching us lose when I knew I could help and compete with the guys out there was just horrible. Not being able to contribute to the team when I knew I could help was what was so difficult."
Morris suffered a severe ACL injury and had surgery, which he's just beginning to come back from. Said Morris, "They just got the screws out of my leg about a month ago, so I'm still just beginning to come back and regain my form and it's hard."
While Morris is suiting up, competing and going through just about every contact drill, he believes he has a ways to go before he is able to compete at the form he knows he is capable of. "Right now, I'd say I'm about 70%, if that," said Morris. "It's coming back, but not as fast as I'd hope. I feel I'm getting better with every practice. It hurts a lot, but I want to play so bad that the pain really isn't a big deal at all. Not playing is a much bigger pain than anything I can feel physically as I found out last season and I definitely don't want to go through that again."
Morris is confident that he can not only contribute, but be a major impact player for the 2005 Cougar football team if he can regain his form. "Right now I just have to think before I move and I hate that," he said. "It just doesn't come natural. I have good straight-away speed, almost the same speed as I had before in that regard, but it's the short patterns where you have to turn and make a quick move where I'm struggling right now with my leg."
Morris is fully aware of Coach Anae's new offense and its focus on spreading the defense and then gutting them with short underneath routes. While this is the part of his game Morris is struggling with, he feels that this type of offense will play to his strengths once he gets healthy. "This is the type of offense that fits anyone's strengths, especially mine," he said. "While it's hard for me right now to make quick moves, I do feel that doing so is my strength when I'm full speed and fully recovered."
What does the future hold for Morris in BYU's new wide-open attack if he can recover completely and play at full speed? "Oh, I think I can do just great in this offense and that is part of what makes it so frustrating for me," said Morris. "I just don't think there are a lot of DBs out there that can cover me one-on-one and this is an offense where most DBs will have to. So yeah, I'm so excited to get back to full strength to where I can play like I know I can."
Cougar cornerback, Nate Soelberg, confirmed this assessment. "Oh, we can't wait for Michael to get back to full speed. He's hard to cover when he's healthy and that's bad for us during practice, but very good for the team during games."
Morris is giving the recovery process more than mere lip service as he's doing everything possible to regain his old form, a form he knows he can dominate with. "I'm doing everything they ask of me and then some," he said. "I'm running in the pool every single night. I'm doing it at 2:00 am if I have to. I wake up at 2:00 am to run in the pool and then rest a bit after that. I just can't stand not being able to play at full speed and how I'm used to playing. Rehab is going good, I'm on schedule and I should be close to full speed by the end of Spring camp."
Morris' effort and desire to rehabilitate his knee has not gone unnoticed by his teammates. "Man, he's working so hard," said Joe Griffin. "If there is ever a guy who is doing everything possible to come back it's Mike. I have a lot of respect for him because of what he's going through. I can sort of relate because of what I went through recovering from my own injury, but man, his is a lot tougher. I just hope he can regain that form soon because he can really help us."
So in the meantime, Morris is grinding it out and doing his best to regain the form he once had and the form that will help the Cougar offense. "I just don't want to feel like a 42-year old guy having to outsmart these guys," explained Morris. "I'm only 23 years old and I know I can outrun just about everybody. I'm just so happy to be out there again. It's just the best thing ever. I can only imagine how great it will be once I'm on the field and playing for real. I just can't wait."
While players hope to prove their worth and improve upon their form from a season ago, some are merely trying to regain the form they lost a year ago due to injury or other factors. Such is the case with wide receiver Michael Morris.
Wide Receiver Michael Morris is steadily progressing toward 100%.