Top Hawkeyes In 2011: #5 James Morris

#5 on my countdown of “Top Hawkeyes In 2011″ is Iowa’s next great linebacker. James Morris started his true freshman campaign as a backup playing behind starter Jeff Tarpinian. After seeing time through the first 7 games, he made his first start of the season versus the #5 ranked Michigan State. In his first career start, he recorded 9 tackles. Morris went on to start the remaining 5 games, including recording a season/career high 13 tackles and 1 sack in a loss at Northwestern. Morris finished the season 4th on the team in tackles with 70. Morris played an integral part in disrupting 1st round pick Blaine Gabbert in the Hawkeyes upset over #12 Missouri in the Insight Bowl. Publications listed Morris as a 1st team All-Big Ten performer and CollegeFootballNews.com listed Morris as a Freshman All-American.

James Morris was a standout football player at Solon High School, just 15 minutes northeast of Iowa City. He was Gatorade player of the year both his junior and senior season in the state of Iowa. While Morris was a standout running back, rushing for 2,247 yards and 40 touchdowns, Iowa recruited Morris to play linebacker. With Morris only entering his sophomore season, expectations for the middle linebacker may not be very high. However, with the loss of Tarpinian and Jerimiha Hunter, Morris and starting outside linebacker Tyler Neilsen will have a lot of weight on their shoulders with a bunch of new defensive starters. Morris has showed he has all the skills to be an All-Big Ten performer for the next 3 seasons. He has the speed to cover in pass coverage, has great instincts in run defense, and showed his ability to rush the passer towards the end of last season. Guys like Shaun Prater and Mike Daniels may get more attention on this unit this season, but Morris is the guy that people should look at to be the leader on the defense.

#6 – Mike Daniels

#7 - James Vandenberg

#8 – Broderick Binns

#9 – Micah Hyde

#10 – Tyler Neilsen

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