SOLON, Iowa – James Morris defied the odds when he became an all-Big Ten linebacker. Now, the former Iowa Hawkeye has positioned himself to make the New England Patriots 53-man roster to start the upcoming season.
Morris’ story serves as inspiration for people in his hometown of Solon, Iowa. He returns there when he can to encourage kids to follow their dreams.
"We’re very proud of James, obviously. He’s an ambassador of our program and our community and our school," Solon High Coach Kevin Miller said. "He’s always done things the right way."
Morris became just the sixth player in Iowa history to record 400 career tackles. In conjunction with that, he earned academic all-Big Ten honors for three years and was a first-team academic all-American as a senior.
"With everything that he’s done, we often talk about him within our program and the tradition that we’ve established here. He’s a special player but he’s an even more special person that just embodies what it means to be a student-athlete. That’s why we really use him as a model for our program," Miller said.
The 6-foot-2, 240-pound Morris, 23, signed with the Patriots as a rookie free agent in 2014. After being released shortly after inking the deal, he re-signed with the team but was placed on injured reserve in late August with an undisclosed ailment.
Morris, whose father is long-time Iowa Football Equipment Manager Greg Morris, worked hard in the off-season for his shot at making New England’s roster. The buzz that’s come out of camp this summer has been positive.
Morris’ 10 tackles through two preseason games rank second on the team.
“He’s a typical Iowa kid,” Patriots Coach Bill Belichick told local reporters on Tuesday. “He’s tough, hard-working, blue collar, dependable, consistent.”
Boston Globe Writer Jim McBride projects that Morris will make New England’s roster. Others share his opinion.
That’s music to the ears of folks in his hometown.
"He’s passionate about Solon football. He wants to give back anytime he can. When he’s back, he likes to see the coaches and the players. It is very meaningful," Miller said.