The nickname “Quarterback U.” for the University of Miami is certainly well deserved. Super-luminary signal callers such as Jim Kelly, Bernie Kosar, Vinny Testaverde, Gino Torretta, Steve Walsh, Craig Erickson and the beloved Ken Dorsey have all worn the orange and green under the swaying palm trees of Coral Gables. While all of those names achieved varying degrees of pro and college football greatness, only two of them – Testaverde and Torretta – ever held aloft arguably the most recognized individual award in all of sports – the Heisman Trophy.
For the 2013 season, senior Stephen Morris will endeavor to become the next Miami Hurricanes quarterback to achieve such a feat. With a bumper crop of quarterback contenders such as Teddy Bridgewater, Tajh Boyd, Aaron Murry, A.J. McCarron and last year’s ballyhooed-freshman winner Johnny Manziel, Morris has been overlooked nationally in the Heisman picture. Nevertheless, Morris has the skills and weapons to make a strong run at the trophy.
Morris’ junior year was one of amazing ups and nauseating downs. In late September, in thrilling victories over Georgia Tech and North Carolina State, Morris combined for 1,002 yard and seven touchdowns with only two interceptions and broke or tied multiple Miami passing records. He followed that up with two less-than mediocre performances in losses to Notre Dame and North Carolina, where he threw for 356 combined yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions. The next three games were similarly average before finishing off the year with a flourish. The last two games of the year, Morris threw for 782 yards, six touchdowns and no turnovers. Despite the roller coaster year, Morris broke Miami’s single-season total-offense record previously held by Kosar and excited a fan base thirsty for a return to national relevance.
Clearly, the kid has skills. He has one of the strongest arms in college football and can create plays on the run. If he can maintain consistency next season, he might have the Heisman Trophy too.
Along with his physical tools, Morris might just be at the helm of the best offense in college football next season. The Hurricanes return 10 of 11 starters from an offense that ranked in the top 50 in all of college football. The missing starter is running back Mike James who took his skills to the NFL. His replacement? Oh, just a sophomore named Randy “Duke” Johnson who was the ACC Rookie of the Year, and might be a Heisman contender himself next season. Miami’s new offensive coordinator James Coley also experimented with the no-huddle during spring practice. If he commits to that scheme, that means extra snaps and more chances to score. Needless to say, Miami’s offense will be putting lumps in the throats of defensive coordinators throughout college football, and those mind-numbing offensive statistics will only help Morris’s Heisman campaign.
Like it or not, Morris deserves to be in the Heisman talk. His skill set was on display last season, his first season as a full-time starter. His name is already in the Miami record book. In addition, his entire offense returns and then some. The table is definitely set for him to win the Heisman Trophy next season. If he can stay healthy, he will be feasting alongside Torretta and Testaverde in New York next December.
Chris Cunningham is a Miami Hurricane writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @cunn1431, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to our network on Google.