Jamie Morris
No. 22, 24
Position:Running back
Personal information
Born: (1965-06-06) June 6, 1965 (age 57)
Southern Pines, North Carolina
Career information
NFL Draft:1988 / Round: 4 / Pick: 109
Career history
Career highlights and awards
  • Big Ten rushing champion (1987)
  • First Team All-Big Ten (1986–1987)
  • Fiesta Bowl Co-MVP (1986)
  • Hall of Fame Bowl MVP (1988)

NFL record

  • Single-game rushes (1988–)

Michigan Wolverines records

  • Career rushing yards (1987–2000)
  • Career yards from scrimmage (1987–2000)
  • Career all-purpose yards (1987–)
  • Career 100-yard games (1987–1994)
  • Season rushing yards (1987–1995)
  • Season yards from scrimmage (1987–1995)
  • Season all-purpose yards (1987–2000)
  • Season 100-yard games (1988–)
  • Career receptions (running back) (1987–)
  • Career receiving yards (running back) (1987–2002)
Career NFL statistics
Rushing yards:777
Receiving yards:68
Kickoff return yards:615
Player stats at NFL.com

James Walter Morris (born June 6, 1965) is a former professional American football running back in the National Football League (NFL) for the Washington Redskins and a record-setting running back in college for the University of Michigan Wolverines. While attending Michigan, he broke the school's all-time records for rushing yards in a season and in a career and for all-purpose yards in a career. His career rushing total was once third in Big Ten Conference history. He continues to hold the career receptions record for Michigan running backs. He also still holds the all-time NFL record for most rushing attempts in a game with 45.

Early life

Morris is from Ayer, Massachusetts where he excelled in track and field in high school, winning the Massachusetts state title in the 200m as a sophomore.

Morris is the younger brother of Joe Morris who set the all-time rushing record at Syracuse University and went on to play for the New York Giants. Jamie and Joe and two brothers and two sisters grew up in Ayer. Their father, Earl Morris, a former Green Beret master sergeant in Vietnam, was a postmaster in Groton, Massachusetts.[1]

College football at Michigan

Michigan's all-time leader in all-purpose yards

Morris played college football at the University of Michigan from 1984 to 1987 and broke the school's all-time rushing records in yards gained in a season (1,703 yards) and a career (4,392 yards). Though those records were broken 13 years later by Anthony Thomas, Morris still holds the U-M school record for all-purpose yards with 6,201. Morris was also the only player in Michigan history to lead the Wolverines in rushing for four years until Mike Hart did so from 20042007.[2] In addition to his rushing yards, he had 99 receptions for 756 yards and 51 kickoff returns for 1,027 yards. He ranks fourth in U-M history in kickoff return yards.[2] He also still ranks third in U-M history in rushing yards in a season and career. Morris was setting Michigan records during the same years Lorenzo White, the Big Ten's first 2,000-yard rusher, was totaling 4,887 yards for the Michigan State Spartans. Neither reached Archie Griffin's 5,589 yard total.[3] Morris was a very versatile running back who was the first Michigan back to total over 30 receptions in a season and remains the only back to have done so twice. He continues to hold the career receptions record for running backs with 99.[4]

In 1986, Morris suffered a knee injury in a game against Florida State. He sat out a game and then came back to play against Ohio State. While he recuperated Thomas Wilcher rushed for 74 yards and two touchdowns against Wisconsin. When Morris returned, he had the best game of his college career against the Buckeyes, gaining 210 yards rushing (302 all-purpose yards) to help the Wolverines win the game and advance to the Rose Bowl.[1] The Wolverines lost the 1987 Rose Bowl to Arizona State 22-15.

Morris also holds the record for the longest run in Outback Bowl history—a 77-yard touchdown run on January 2, 1988 in a 28-24 victory over Alabama.[5] Morris was named MVP of the game, then known as the Hall of Fame Bowl.

Morris' Top 10 game performances at Michigan

Morris' Top 10 game performances for the Wolverines are as follows:[6]

Rank Opponent Date Rushing Yds. Recvg. Yds. Kick Rtn. Yds. All-Purp. Yds. TDs Score
1 Ohio State 1986-11-22 210 22 70 302 2 26-24
2 Alabama 1988-01-02 234 -4 0 230 3 28-24
3 Indiana 1985-10-26 179 24 26 229 2 42-15
4 Wisconsin 1987-10-03 182 25 0 207 3 49-0
5 Oregon State 1986-09-20 140 35 29 204 0 31-12
6 Minnesota 1987-11-07 149 5 42 196 1 30-20
7 Nebraska 1986-01-01 156 10 29 195 0 27-23
8 Minnesota 1986-11-15 78 64 51 193 0 17-20
9 Indiana 1987-10-24 152 12 27 191 0 10-14
10 Long Beach St. 1987-09-26 171 0 0 171 1 49-0

Relationship with Schembechler

Morris played at Michigan under head coach Bo Schembechler. When Morris first arrived at Michigan, Schembechler told Morris (who stood five feet, seven inches) he was too short to play at running back. Schembechler recalled: "I told Jamie when we recruited him he was too small to be a running back and we wanted him for running back kicks. I did, however, promise him the chance to try to be a running back for us. Good thing I did, isn't it?" [1] In his third game as a freshman, Schembechler put him in as the starting tailback, and he remained Michigan's starter at the position for four years.[1]

When asked years later about Morris' career at Michigan, Schembechler said: "Here's a kid who I thought would be a very fine kick-return specialist, and he ended up becoming the all-time leading ground-gainer in Michigan history. What do you know about that?"[7]

In a November 2007 interview with The Ann Arbor News, Morris recalled: "Once Coach Bo was chastising me, and (assistant coach Lloyd Carr) pointed out, 'Look at those younger players over there. He's not yelling at them, so he must think something about you.' And that held with me for a long time."[8]

Morris also spoke at the memorial service held at Michigan Stadium after Schembechler's death in November 2006. While the majority of the speeches focused on how Schembechler will be remembered, Morris spoke about the things he will miss in his coach's absence. "I will miss having the conversations with him about the good old days," he said. "Most importantly, I will miss hearing how much love and pride he had for Michigan - the school, the players and the fans."[9]

U-M's career rushing record

Michigan career rushing yards leaders:[6]

Rank Name Attempts Net yds Yds/Att Touchdowns Long Start End
1 Mike Hart 983 4911 5.0 39 64 2004 2007
2 Anthony Thomas 924 4472 4.8 55 80 1997 2000
3 Jamie Morris 806 4392 5.5 25 68 1984 1987
4 Tyrone Wheatley 688 4178 6.1 47 88 1991 1994
5 Butch Woolfolk 717 3850 5.4 29 92 1978 1981

U-M's single-season rushing record

Michigan single-season rushing leaders:[6]

Rank Name Attempts Net yds Yds/Att Year
1 Tim Biakabutuka 303 1818 6.0 1995
2 Anthony Thomas 319 1733 5.4 2000
3 Jamie Morris 282 1703 6.0 1987
4 Chris Perry 338 1674 5.0 2003
5 Mike Hart 318 1562 4.9 2006

U-M's career kickoff return yards record

Michigan career kickoff return yardage leaders:[6]

Rank Name Returns Yards Long Begin End
1 Steve Breaston 81 1993 95 2003 2006
2 Anthony Carter 63 1606 67 1979 1982
3 Desmond Howard 45 1211 95 1989 1991
4 Jamie Morris 51 1027 80 1984 1987
5 Mercury Hayes 53 999 47 1992 1995

Professional career

Morris set Michigan's all-time rushing records, yet his smaller stature (5 feet, 7 inches) led to a fourth round draft pick during the 1988 NFL Draft by the Washington Redskins. He played three seasons from 1988-1990. His best year was 1988 when he played in all 16 games for the Redskins, and rushed for 437 yards in 126 attempts. During his career, Morris twice rushed for at least 100 yards in a game.[10] Morris also set the NFL record for the most rushing attempts in a game with 45, in a December 17, 1988 game against the Cincinnati Bengals. The Redskins' web site describes Morris' record-setting performance as follows: "On the morning of Dec. 17, the Redskins had a 7-8 record coming into the season finale at Cincinnati. ... With no hope of returning to the playoffs, the Redskins gave Morris what amounted to an audition for the starting job in 1989. With only 81 carries and 285 yards for the season, the 5-7, 195-pound running back was ready for the challenge. Not only did he carry the ball a record number of times, he gained 152 yards, didn't fumble, and had the Redskins on the brink of victory in a game in which not many experts gave them a chance."[11] Despite the good showing, Morris did not win a starting job in 1989, gaining 336 yards in 124 carries for a 2.7 yard average. Morris' NFL career came to an end in 1990, when he gained only four yards in two carries for the Redskins.

During Morris' NFL career, none of his teams made the playoffs, but the 1989 Redskins under Joe Gibbs were 10-6.[12] In 1988, Gibbs used a triumvirate of running backs with Kelvin Bryant gaining 498 yards, Timmy Smith gaining 470 yards and Morris gaining 437 yards. That season Morris was the leading Redskin kickoff returner with 21 returns for 413 yards.[13] With the New England Patriots in 1990 Morris was one of five return men (Sammy Martin, Marvin Allen, Junior Robinson, and Don Overton) with at least 10 returns for the team.[14]

Morris played one final season of professional football with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League in 1991. Morris ran for 591 yards and caught 28 passes for 263 yards in 12 regular season games. He also returned kicks for 435 yards and scored three touchdowns on a team that struggled to a 1-13 start and finished in last place at 3-15.

Life after football

Morris worked for the University of Michigan Athletic Department as a Development Manager from 1998-2010. He was responsible for donor relations and facilitating the campaign to raise $100 million by 2008.[2] In 2005, Morris hosted the U-M Football Bust put on by the U-M Club of Greater Detroit. He also hosts a popular Sunday morning sports talk show, A View From the Backfield on Sports Talk 1050 WTKA in Ann Arbor.[15]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d White, Gordon S. (1987-01-01). "Rose Bowl: Added incentive for one Morris". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-12-06.
  2. ^ a b c "Jamie Morris: All-Purpose yardage leader". Those Who Stay Will Be Champions. 2006-07-17. Retrieved 2007-12-06.
  3. ^ "Big Ten Football: Individual Records (All Games)" (PDF). The Big Ten Conference. Retrieved 2008-01-25.
  4. ^ "Record Book" (PDF). University of Michigan & Host Interactive. 2007. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-02-29. Retrieved 2008-01-25.
  5. ^ "Outback Bowl records". The Outback Bowl. Retrieved 2007-12-06.
  6. ^ a b c d "Michigan Football Statistic Archive Query Page". Regents of the University of Michigan. 2003. Archived from the original on 2007-11-12. Retrieved 2007-12-06.
  7. ^ Brandstatter, Jim (2002). Tales from Michigan Stadium, pp. 17-18. Sports Publishing. ISBN 978-1-58261-353-6. Retrieved 2007-12-06.
  8. ^ "Jamie Morris Interview". Ann Arbor News. 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-06.
  9. ^ Reid, Andy; Herring, Chris (2006-11-22). "Bo will always be here: Thousands attend memorial at Big House". The Michigan Daily. Retrieved 2007-12-06.[permanent dead link]
  10. ^ "Jamie Morris (big games)". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Sports Reference, LLC. Archived from the original on 2009-01-07. Retrieved 2008-01-24.
  11. ^ Krauss, Andy (2005-05-15). "Flashback: Morris Set the Bar High". The Official Site of the Washington Redskins. Archived from the original on March 24, 2006. Retrieved 2007-12-06.
  12. ^ "1989 Washington Redskins". databaseFootball.com. databaseSports.com. Retrieved 2007-12-10.
  13. ^ "1988 Washington Redskins". databaseFootball.com. databaseSports.com. Retrieved 2007-12-10.
  14. ^ "1990 New England Patriots". databaseFootball.com. databaseSports.com. Retrieved 2007-12-10.
  15. ^ "Annual Michigan Football Bust". University of Michigan Club of Greater Detroit. Archived from the original on 2007-03-11. Retrieved 2007-12-07.