August 14, 2011

How Alec Morris landed at UA

Three months ago, Alec Morris took the field at Allen High School for the Eagles' annual spring game. He enjoyed a solid day for the Texas powerhouse, completing 7-of-13 passes for 110 yards.

At the time, Morris had no scholarship offers to speak of.

Now, the Lone Star native is the University of Alabama's quarterback of the future, and there's no place he would rather be.

"When it came down to it, I was going to college to play football, and there wasn't a better place to do that than Alabama," Morris said. "That's why I chose Alabama."

It was at that spring game in May when the Crimson Tide coaching staff first noticed Morris. After a recommendation from Morris' quarterback coach Kevin Murray, UA assistant coach Mike Groh came to watch the game. He liked what he saw from the little known prospect.

From there, Alabama invited Morris to its summer camp and he performed so well at the camp that UA head coach Nick Saban called him into his office and talked about how he could potentially fit at Alabama.

"According to Alec, Coach Saban told him that they could see him fitting very well into their system because he has no flaws," Murray said. "To me, I think that was an indication of our work together, putting in the hours and working. That was a feather in both of our caps."

However, it was no secret that Morris wasn't Alabama's first choice at the position. UA had its sights set on top quarterback prospects Gunner Kiel and Jameis Winston, and Morris was just a mere backup plan.

Knowing that, the 6-foot-3, 235-pound quarterback did what was best for him. After receiving a scholarship offer from Wake Forest in May, he committed to the Demon Deacons in late July.

"I committed to Wake Forest with every intention of going there to play football," Morris said.

Around the same time Morris committed to Wake Forest, Kiel chose Indiana over Alabama and Florida State started taking the momentum for Winston. UA looked to its next best option and decided to offer Morris a scholarship.

A week later, he switched his commitment and opted to go to Alabama.

"Sure some things fell through the cracks with the kid that went to Indiana, but the fact of the matter is, I believe Alabama could go get anybody they want," Murray said. "They chose my kid. Nick Saban could've went and got just about anybody he wanted. He chose one of ours."

For the Crimson Tide fan base, the news of the commitment came out of nowhere. Most people didn't know who this Morris kid was. He was a three-star prospect who only had offers from Wake Forest and North Texas.

Even Morris may have been a little surprised, but he knew all of the hard work he had put in had finally paid off.

"In my recruitment before about a month ago, I had offers from Wake Forest and North Texas, so it wasn't like I was a really highly-recruited guy," Morris said. "(Coach) Murray always told me to just be yourself. Don't get worked up. Don't get too stressed out. Things are going to happen, and he was right."

So how does a kid who ends up at Alabama go so far under the radar throughout the entire recruiting process?

"I don't know," Morris said. "I have no idea what coaches see. I hope they see a quarterback that they would love to have on their team. I don't know what made them not pull the trigger or pull the trigger. It wasn't something that I was too worried about."

Murray knows a thing or two about the recruiting process. He has tutored a number of quarterbacks who are either playing Division I football or committed to play Division I football. He even went through the process as a player back in the day.

He believes that schools will jump on kids because they have offers from other schools, and had Alabama or any other school openly come after Morris months ago, his offer list would have been higher.

"This process is very weird, and I know that to be a fact," Murray said. "I'm a firm believer that if schools are not on your bandwagon, others won't jump on it. Conversely, if you have eight to 12 major universities after you, others jump in bed with you.

"Had Alabama made it public two months ago that they were after this kid, others would've jumped on the kid simply because Alabama was recruiting him. Just because other schools were not after him openly, other universities look at this kid like he's got the plague or something."

Another thing that Murray believes hurt Morris and his recognition was the fact that he was just a three-star prospect on the majority of recruiting sites.

"I think far too much emphasis is placed on this four and five-star rating," Murray said. "Far too much emphasis is placed on this rating system.

"Nick Saban is a tremendous evaluator of talent. I guarantee he doesn't put a whole lot of emphasis on that. He looks at the kid. He looks at the talent. He looks at the tape. He makes a decision, as does his staff."

For Morris, he's not concerned with what star rating he is or how many schools offered him a scholarship. In fact, he relishes in the fact that he's gone under the radar and didn't really have to deal with the whole recruiting process.

"It's kind of nice to not have a thousand schools to choose from, especially when you end up at a school like Alabama," Morris said. "It's a great college for football, so I'm blessed to be able to go play football there.

"I'm sure that if you had offers upon offers, there would definitely be an upside to that. I wouldn't really know, but I'm happy where I'm at."

Either way, Murray believes that while Alabama fans may not know his quarterback's name now, they will know it by the time he leaves Tuscaloosa.

"I think this kid is going to surprise some people. I really do," Murray said. "We're going to get through his senior season, try to go win a state championship, and after his senior season is over, it's 'Roll Tide Roll.' Everything that we do from that point moving forward will be preparing for his day one at Alabama. He will be ready to go."

Reach Greg Ostendorf at greg@tidesports.com.





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