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December 11, 1987 - Image 9

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1987-12-11

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The Michigan Daily-Friday, December 11, 1987- P0gO9






By RICK KAPLAN away fron
The 1984 opening-day football AS A
program read: always gc
#23 Jamie Morris, WR moved ou
Four years later, the new "wide the way f
receiver" had become the most pro- he paved
lific running back in Michigan his- Going to
tory. did in col
Morris came to Michigan a rela- me that I
tive unknown from rural Ayer, if I set m3
Mass. He spent a large part of his "Now
first year eliminating the prefix NFL," Jai
"Joe's little brother" from his name. question
The problem was two fold: being NFL?' Jc
little, and being the younger brother play in th
of a National Football League star. me the o
Jamie Morris had to establish an can play i
identity separate from that of his Jamie
older brother Joe, a halfback for the career as
New York Giants. He also needed to upon his
prove that, at 5-7, he was not too had to fig
little to be a Big Ten running back. small to c
"Joe and I are a lot alike," said as a wide
Jamie, the youngest of four brothers. said the y
"We run alike and do a lot of things we even
alike, but I don't think we're the (Schemb
same people. Joe is a more relaxed conversat
individual. He takes a different ap- at running
proach than I do. He tends to shy "He go
' y:





m people. I'm outgoing."
youngster, Jamie, 22, was
oing in after Joe, 27, had
ut. "Joe has always paved
or me," said Jamie. "First,
the way in high school.
college, Joe doing what he
lege (at Syracuse) showed
could play college football
y mind to it.
there's another step, the
nie added. "There are still
s. 'Can he play in the
oe has shown that he can
he NFL, and that will give
pportunity to show that I
in the NFL."_
Morris will set out upon a
an NFL running back. But
arrival in Ann Arbor, he
ght to prove he was not too
carry the ball. "I was listed
receiver when I came here,"
ounger Morris. "But before
went to camp, Coach Bo
echler) and I had a
ion. I asked him to try me
g back.
ave me a shot. That's all I

asked for. I said, 'If you don't like
what you see, I'll do anything you
want me to.' I guess he liked what
he saw, because he hasn't changed
me yet."
THE SENIOR maintains that
his size has not affected him on the
football field. "They say I'm not
able to carry the ball because of
durability, or I'm not strong enough,
or something like that," Morris said.
"But that's not true. You can't
look at a person physically in skill
positions. You've got to look at the
determination in his eyes and his
heart size, and how badly he wants
to play game."
Morris' determination has re-
mained constant, but his role on the
team has changed over the past four
years. Although he is now the cap-
tain of the offense, he was far from a
vocal leader at his first Michigan
training camp.
"I was really scared," Morris said,
thinking back on the day before the
veterans reported. "Bo told us to
never be intimidated by anybody. He
said, 'These guys are going to bigger

Jamie Morris proved to Michigan fans that he was not too small to be a Big Ten running back.

and stronger than you are, but don't
be intimidated by that.' But we were
scared. We knew our place. We
would sit in the back."
SITTING IN the back of the
bench during his first collegiate
game, Morris nearly had an
embarrassing moment. Tired with
the excitement of the day, he nearly
fell asleep.
Offensive backfield coach Tirrel
Burton roused Morris, telling him he
was going into the game. The play
was an off-tackle, with Morris
carrying the ball. He was tackled for
a five-yard loss. "It was my fault,"
Morris said. "I was watching the
wave instead of listening to the
starting count."
After starting with negative-five
yards, Morris has rushed for-4,l159,
shattering Butch Woolfolk's mark
for the most in Michigan history.'
He has rushed the ball 786 limes,
also a Wolverine high. The diminu-
Live senior has gained over 1,000
yards in each of the last three years,
and has led the team in rushing all
four seasons.
Looking back, year by year:
-1984 - Morris became the first
rookie to lead the Wolverines in
rushing since 1945. He ran for more
than 100 yards in his third game at
Michigan, and finished the year with
1,012 total yards. "My freshman
year, it was a dream come true for
me just to even play a few games,"
he said. The team, however, finished
a disappointing 6-6, Schembechler's
worst record ever at Michigan.

-1985 - The sophomore made
honorable mention All-Big wTen,
rushing for 1,030 yards. Morris was
the offensive Most Valuable Player
in Michigan's Fiesta Bowl victory
over Nebraska. The team finished
ranked number two in the country,
with a 10-1-1 record.
"That was the most satisfying
year," Morris said. "We decided we
were going to come out and prove to
everybody that that (6-6) year was
just a fluke. It was just an incredible
feeling. Personally, gaining 1,000
yards that season was a feeling of
-1986 - Morris made first-team
All-Big Ten and honorable mention
All-America. Despite missing one
game with a knee injury, he topped
his previous single-season rushing
high by gaining 1,086 yards. The

Wolverines (11-2) won the Big Ten
championship, but lost the Rose
Bowl to Arizona State.
"My junior year, I think I felt
more dejected than any year here,"
Morris said. "After losing the Rose
Bowl, I was on a mission this year."
-1987 - Game by game, the se-
nior assaulted the Michigan record
book. In' addition to his rushing
marks, Morris broke the all-purpose
yardage career record with 5,971. The
team ended 7-4, including losses to
rivals Michigan State and Ohio
"I decided I was going to do
anything I could to help this team
get back there (the Rose Bowl)," he
said. "I would work real hard on ev-
erything. But it just didn't happen
this year. Things didn't fall right for


Notre Daine
Washington State
Long Beach State
Michigan State
Ohio State



Daily Photo by JOHN MUNSON
In breaking every significant Michigan rushing record, senior Jamie Morris established himself as a separate
identity than that of his brother, Joe.




out own niche

Mention Mike Hammerstein's name
around Mark Messner and be prepared to
listen to a sermon about leadership,
experience, and know-how.
Messner, Michigan's senior defensive
tackle and a two-time All-Big Ten selection,
attributes his on-field success t o
Hammerstein. "The Hammer," now a
defensive end with the Cincinnati Bengals,
played alongside Messner in 1985 and ranks
among the all-time leaders in several
Michigan defensive categories.
"He was a great example and a great
leader," Messner said. "What he did on the
field was exceptional. When we go through
highlight films, it's a Hammerstein
highlight film, that's basically what it is.
"HAMMER MADE so many big
plays. The way Hammer was, when he made
a play, everything was exciting. There was
electricity and that, I think, is carried on by
the guys who played with him.
While Hammerstein's legend remains
intact around Ann Arbor, Messner is doing
pretty well himself. In fact, when the 6-3,
250-pounder leaves Michigan for a probable
NFL career after next season, Messner will
have accumulated quite an impressive
highlight reel of his own.
In his three seasons, Messner has
collected a potpourri of awards, records, and
-1987 - Named first-team All-Big Ten
(AP and UPI) and second-team All-
American. Messner led the Wolverines in
tackles for loss (19), sacks (10), and total
$ tackles (66).

Bowl with nine tackles, a forced fumble,
and a fumble recovery against Nebraska in
Michigan's 27-23 victory.
BUT MESSNER is far from through.
He will leave Michigan with a degree
(Bachelor of General Studies with a business
concentration) and plans to use his last year
of eligibility while he accumulates the
remaining credits he needs to graduate.
This should allow him time to break, and
probably shatter, the all-time Michigan
record in tackles for loss. Currently with 43
tackles for loss, Messner is in second place,
needing only six more to break Curtis
Greer's record (Greer now plays with the St.
Louis Cardinals). During this season,
Messner has passed, among others, Kevin
Brooks (Dallas Cowboys), and
"(Breaking the record) is one of my goals
I want to achieve," Messner said. "I've got a
good chance of getting there, and that would
be a great accomplishment for me if I
achieve it."
With a spectacular Hall of Fame Bowl
performance, Messner could conceivably
break the record in just three seasons. One of
the reasons he is close to breaking the record
so quickly is his 1985 rookie season
EVEN IN HIS first year, Messner was
able to rack up the sacks and tackles for loss,
even though, by his own admission, he
didn't know how to play the position
properly. Hammerstein's mere presence at
the other side of the line made his success
"As a freshman, I had the good

supposed to be played. Contain, pursue,
It was a difficult transition for the
Hartland, Mich., native, and his second-
season statistics were down from those of
his first year. The experience he gained his
second year has now developed him into one
of the country's premier defensive linemen.
things and you can feel things and you can
see things quicker the more you see ahem,"
he said. "This year and last year, I've had to
read things and react much quicker because
I'm chasing them rather than them running
at me.
"Last year wasn't the same as my
freshman year because I had to work much
harder. Last year, I had to learn to read things
and follow keys and not just run around like
a chicken with my head cut off. This year
I've learned that, and I'm learning every day,
so after a year of working it has started to
get a little easier for me."
Messner's success also is a result of his
willingness to gamble on any play. Even
though the Wolverine defensive philosophy
is based on containment by the tackles,
Messner's experience has taught him to
cheat on big-play opportunities.
"But if you do something that you don't
connect on," Messner warns, "you're going
to get your butt chewed out by the coaches.
"HAMMERSTEIN was a lot like that
and unfortunately that's where I got it from,
but Hammerstein was able to compensate for
things like that. He was quick enough and he
knew from experience where he had to be.
He did things a little differently, but he got

sacks and tackles for loss (two and 11
Just like Hammerstein made Messner a
better player, Messner has done the same for

And maybe when Mark Messner's name
is mentioned around these parts in a couple
of years, Herrmann will be able to give a
sermon about leadership, experience, and

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