ESPN: Iowa Linebackers Aim to Forge Their Own Legacy

May 6, 2012

IOWA CITY, Iowa — “Iowa linebacker James Morris doesn’t go along with the status quo. Unless he thinks it’s 1985,” ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg wrote last week.

“This spring, Morris conducted what he called a “social experiment,” sporting a neatly cropped mustache, more Zorro than Selleck. His Hawkeyes teammates are big fans, his coaches have warmed up to it and even his girlfriend approves, “though she wants to deny it,” he said.

“`I’m trying it out,’ Morris told “It’s about the only time you can have a mustache like this. You won’t get fired and your boss won’t give you [stuff].’ “Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz, who serves as Morris’ football boss, has no issue with Morris’ ‘stache nor his career path to this point. Ferentz, who frequently consults Iowa’s recent history when discussing players or teams, likened the progression this spring of Morris and fellow linebacker Christian Kirksey to that of former Hawkeyes stars Chad Greenway and Abdul Hodge.

“Greenway and Hodge, who played alongside one another from 2002-05, occupy two of the top five spots on Iowa’s career tackles chart. (Hodge is third with 453, Greenway is fifth with 416.) Hodge led Iowa in tackles in each of his final three seasons, and he and Greenway own two of the top three single-season tackles totals. (Hodge had 158 stops and Greenway had 156 in 2005.) Both were two-time first-team All-Big Ten selections before moving onto to the NFL. Greenway made his first Pro Bowl last year with the Vikings.

“Ferentz isn’t putting Morris and Kirksey in the Greenway-Hodge category just yet, but he notes that the linebackers have followed similar paths. Both Morris and Kirksey saw action during their freshman year — the 6-foot-2, 230-pound Morris made six starts at middle linebacker and recorded 70 tackles — and they shared the team tackles lead with 110 stops apiece in 2011.”

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