User ID
  Forgot User ID
or Register Today!
Follow Us on Facebook Follow Us on Twitter Follow Us on Google+ VI Mobile Scores and Betting Odds
Betting Tools

James Morris keys revitalized Hawkeyes

New customers: Make your 1st bet, get your 2nd bet free, 100%, winnings paid in cash.
Join Now

Already have an account? Click here to view new Exclusive Rewards!

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - Linebacker James Morris has been a fixture on Iowa's defense since 2010, emerging as a star freshman on a team that finished well below expectations.

Morris is closing out his career with one of the better seasons in recent school history - and has emerged as a key for a team on a surprising run.

Morris on Monday became the first Iowa player in nine years to win multiple Big Ten defensive player of the week honors in the same season. Morris was honored for the second time in 2013 after he had 2 1/2 tackles for loss, a pair of sacks and a fumble recovery last week in a 17-10 overtime win over Northwestern.

Behind the experience and playmaking skills of Morris, the Hawkeyes (5-3, 2-2 Big Ten) head into Saturday's home game against No. 22 Wisconsin (5-2, 3-1) with a shot at bowl eligibility and a chance to stay relevant in the Legends Division race.

''I'm playing with some pretty good players, and that opens up some opportunities,'' Morris said. ''I'm very comfortable with the schemes we're trying to do, and I feel like I have pretty good experience or a data bank of reference for what other teams are trying to do.''

The irony for Morris is that he's finally living up to the outsized expectations many had for him from the moment he arrived in Iowa City.

Morris was the focal point of a Solon (Iowa) team that won 41 straight games and three consecutive state prep titles. He ran for 2,247 yards and scored 40 touchdowns as a senior running back and had 276 career tackles at linebacker.

Throw in a National Honor Society membership and letters in track and wrestling, and Morris appeared to have all the smarts, speed and toughness required of a future All-American. That Morris was good enough to earn significant snaps and make defensive play calls as a true freshman only added to the hype.

After a strong debut at Penn State, Morris was named the starting middle linebacker midway through 2010. He responded with nine tackles in a blowout home win over then-No. 5 Michigan State.

But neither he nor the Hawkeyes could know that a lengthy, program-wide slide was looming on the other side of that win.

Iowa soon fell out of the Top 25 and finished a disappointing 8-5 and 4-4 in the league. Though Morris would earn honorable-mention All-Big Ten honors as a sophomore in 2011, his efforts were overshadowed by another underwhelming year by the Hawkeyes.

Morris was supposed to help buoy an inexperienced defense under new coordinator Phil Parker in 2012. But persistent injuries hampered Morris's production and the Hawkeyes finished 4-8. Though Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz bristled at any suggestion that Morris had a down year last season, it's clear that health has been crucial to Morris's success in 2013.

''He's fought some injuries behind the scenes,'' Ferentz said. ''He works extremely hard on the practice field. He's unbelievable, in terms of his preparation away from the field...and he's a great leader. He's a great role model for any football team.''

He's also playing at his best as a senior. Morris had eight tackles, a sack and a key fourth-quarter pick to win player of the week honors following a 23-7 win at Minnesota - a victory that looks even more impressive considering that the Gophers are 6-2.

Morris leads the Hawkeyes with four sacks and three interceptions, and he's now eighth in Iowa history with 357 tackles.

The Hawkeyes have a tough stretch coming up, with Michigan and Nebraska looming in late November. But they know they can count on Morris, whose strong final season is the culmination of everything he's gone through with the Hawkeyes.

''The thing about James Morris is that anything he has, he'll use, and experience is part of that,'' Ferentz said. ''He's a guy that goes back and reflects on everything.''


Follow Luke Meredith on Twitter:

The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2015
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved

Edwards: Week 7 Notebook
Sportsbook: Tuesday's Top Action
Mejia: Dinero Talks: NCAAFB Week 6
Nelson: 4th Quarter Covers - Week 6
Dobish: Betting Recap - Week 6
Spurrier retiring from South Carolina
USC fires head coach Steve Sarkisian
Florida QB Grier suspended for PEDs
Mississippi's Tunsil gets suspended
Why Buy Picks From
NCAAFB College Football Handicapper Sports Picks Records
NCAAFB Hot Streaks
11-1 Run, 10-2 G-Plays, 25-9 TY
12-2 Win Streak, 8-2 L10 G-Plays
8-0 Guarantees, 15-6 Picks TY
12-5 L17 Totals, 5-1 L6 G-Plays
6-0 Guarantees TY, 5-2 Saturday
4-0 Guarantees, 22-14 L36 Picks
9-3 Record L2 Saturdays
8-2 Over/Unders Record TY
51-30 NCAA FB L5 Saturdays
8-3 Last 11 Totals Plays
6-3 Saturday, 4-1 L5 Totals
7-4 Last 3 Saturdays
12-5 CFB L2 Saturdays
5-0 Thursday Record TY
4-1 L5 G-Plays, 7-1 Fridays TY
NCAAFB College Football Expert Sports Picks- Arkansas State Red Wolves at South Alabama Jaguars
Money Leaders
Handicapper Money
Marc Lawrence + 1515
Kyle Hunter + 865
Greg Smith + 830
Last Week's Leaders
Handicapper Money
Marc Lawrence + 390
John Fisher + 280
Joe Williams + 259
Percentage Leaders
Handicapper Pct
Scott Pritchard 75 %
Marc Lawrence 74 %
Greg Smith 71 %
Guaranteed Leaders
Handicapper Money
Greg Smith + 800
Marc Lawrence + 780
Chip Chirimbes + 600
Over-Under Leaders
Handicapper Money
Antony Dinero + 1310
Kyle Hunter + 730
Joe Williams + 601
Member Leaders
Handicapper Money
Antony Dinero + 1359
Bruce Marshall + 805
Paul Bovi + 450
corner graphic
With a VI Gold Membership, you can SAVE 10% off a Live Odds subscription, SAVE 20% off Daily Pick packages, and receive access to up to 1,000 Member Plays each month!
VI Gold Membership