CHICAGO – Iowa has one of the best linebacking corps in the Big Ten in seniors James Morris, Christian Kirksey and Anthony Hitchens.
They may also be the most underrated trio at their position in the league.
“I think you’re judged by your record first, and I think it should be that way,” Morris said. “I think that’s fair.
“I’m not going to argue against our record. We were what we were. We’re the linebacking unit of a 4-8 team. You ask somebody how good is the linebacking unit of a 4-8 team, and you would say they can’t be great. Obviously, I disagree with that. But I can’t argue with people who do say that.”
Kirksey also feels the record makes debate fruitless.
“A 4-8 record, that’s a team thing,” Kirksey said. “The linebackers didn’t make us 4-8. The offense didn’t make us 4-8. It was a 4-8 team.”
Kirksey thinks the three linebackers can make an impact with their leadership skills on the field.
“We’ve all been around a long time, and linebacker is a great position to lead from,” Kirksey said.
Morris said that carrying an underrated tag isn’t important to him.
“Do I need people to be talking about us on SportsCenter to feel like I’m justifying myself?” Morris said. “No, I don’t.”
Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz calls Morris “a tremendous leader,” and predicted that his best football days are ahead of him.
“He’s going to play a long time after he gets out of college, “ Ferentz said, adding that Morris is “in an elite category.”
Ferentz also said Kirksey is “as talented a guy that we’d had at that position (outside linebacker) since I’ve been here.”
Chris Borland of Wisconsin, Max Bullough of Michigan State and Ryan Schazier of Ohio State get the majority of attention in Big Ten circles when it comes to linebackers.
“Those are really good players, and I’m not comparing,” Ferentz said. “But our guys are really good players, too.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football