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Morris hits the road for awards banquets

[ 0 ] December 13, 2013 |

At this time last year, Iowa linebacker James Morris was tired of losing in the wake of a disastrous 4-8 season.

He was tired again this week, especially on Wednesday, but this fatigue was caused by success rather than failure.

Morris returned home late Wednesday night from a whirlwind four-day trip in which he attended an awards banquet in southern California and one in New York City.

“It was fun,” Morris said Friday. “It was exciting. But by the end, I was just ready to get home.”

Morris was one of four senior finalists for the 2013 Lott Impact Trophy, which was awarded to UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr during a ceremony Sunday in Newport Beach, Calif. The other two finalists were Wisconsin senior linebacker Chris Borland and USC senior linebacker Devon Kennard.

The award is given to the defensive player who was considered to have had the biggest influence on his team.

Morris helped 8-4 Iowa, which will face Louisiana State in the Outback Bowl on New Year’s Day in Tampa, Fla., double its win total from last season by leading the team with 14 1/2  tackles for loss and four interceptions during the regular season. The Solon native finished second on the team with 98 tackles and was rewarded by making second-team all-Big Ten.

Morris also was a finalist for the 2013 Campbell Trophy, which was awarded to Penn State offensive lineman John Urschel during a ceremony on Tuesday at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York. The Campbell Trophy is considered the most prestigious award that combines both academic and athletic prowess.

“I met a lot of really cool people,” Morris said. “Guys that you see on film, but you don’t necessarily get to interact with. I spent some time with Chris Borland in Newport. I got to meet his family and sort of hang out on Sunday, I think it was. So that was cool.”

Morris now has to get back to work, both in the classroom and on the field with final exams next week and with the Outback Bowl quickly approaching.

“I couldn’t imagine having a game this week, obviously, with finals coming up,” Morris said. “I’ve got a little bit on my plate in that regard.

“So I think once those things are finished up, I’m going to turn my focus to LSU.”

Morris will take his last exam Dec. 20.

“That should be plenty of time for me,” Morris said. “We’re certainly preparing to play our best. And once the academic stuff is taken care of, we can really kind of focus in on LSU and game plan and things like that.”

Morris said he’s too busy living in the moment to think about his Hawkeye career coming to end.

“I don’t really worry about the future and it being the last game and things like that,” Morris said. “I’m just excited for the opportunity to have one more game with these guys and showcase what we feel like we can do on a national stage.”

All three of Iowa’s starting linebackers are seniors and will make their last appearance in the Outback Bowl. The other two are Anthony Hitchens and Christian Kirksey. They’ve already dealt with the emotions of playing in their last game at Kinnick Stadium and in their last regular-season game.

“Different emotions keep rising,” Kirksey said. “Now another emotion has risen because you’re playing your last game. But it should be fun.”

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

About Pat Harty: Columnist Pat Harty has been covering the Iowa Hawkeyes for the Press-Citizen since 1991. Originally from Des Moines, he currently writes columns and covers Hawkeye men's basketball for Hawk Central. View author profile.

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