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James Morris’ artistry extends beyond playing field

[ 0 ] July 12, 2011 |

Iowa City, Ia. — The bruising guy, a middleman in Iowa’s football defense, is more Picasso than Wheaties material – for now.

Confused? Welcome to the world of The Things Norm Parker Says – and the hobby that relaxes James Morris’ mind.

Last spring, the quotable defensive coordinator did it again while meeting with reporters by mentioning that Morris has national stature.

“He’s a Wheaties box kind of guy,” Parker said. “He’s sort of the all-American boy. He works hard. He studies hard. He does just about everything right.”

Everything — and he’s got the art work to prove it.

James Morris

The sophomore from Solon not only is rough-and-tumble linebacker, but a 6-foot-2, 215-pound toughie who likes to draw.

“I draw anything and everything,” Morris said.

He’s so good that his work hangs on a wall at Nike headquarters in Beaverton, Ore.

“It’s just something I like to do whenever I have some spare time,” Morris said. “It’s relaxing. I started doing it when I was kid, and I liked it, but I’m not exactly planning to make a career of it.”

Iowa wears Nike football apparel. That’s how Morris’ work made it to Oregon — that and the fact that Morris’ father, Greg, is the Hawkeyes’ longtime football equipment manager.

“I just brought it to their attention,” the proud pop said. “James — he did the work.”

Iowa football opponent on Sept. 3: Tennessee Tech

Iowa’s Nike representative and Greg Morris were chatting one day, talking about equipment and apparel when suddenly small talk broke out.

“For some reason, we started talking about James, and this was three years ago — before he became part of the Iowa program,” Greg said. “I started talking about what James sat down and drew one day, and (the representative) told me to send it.”

James Morris, who a few years later would be a Hawkeye true freshman starter, drew a charcoal collage-type sketch that included a football, the gloves football players wear, and a hat featuring the Solon Spartans logo.

“It was his idea,” Greg said of the drawing’s concept. “He saw that stuff, put it in front of him and then he drew it. All I did was send it.”

But what about Parker’s Wheaties box comment?

“I’d rather be on the cover of Sports Illustrated than a Wheaties box, but it was a nice compliment,” James Morris said. “Coach Parker — he’s sort of known for saying some outlandish things, but I appreciate what he said”

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

About Randy Peterson: Randy Peterson covers college football, college basketball and the Iowa Cubs for the Des Moines Register. Randy can be reached at randypeterson@dmreg.com or on Twitter via @RandyPete View author profile.

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