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NCAA Football ACC FootballMiami (FL) Hurricanes

2013 Preseason Maxwell Award Watch List Profile: Miami QB Stephen Morris

Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Hurricanes are on a mission this season. After missing out on what would’ve been an ACC Championship Game appearance in 2012 due to sanctions stemming from the ongoing, highly-publicized Nevin Shapiro scandal, those sanctions are now gone and the ‘Canes are ready to take full advantage of this opportunity.

With 10 returning starters on offense, I don’t think there’s a question in anyone’s mind that Miami can certainly light up some scoreboards to get to their postseason destination.

Leading this charge will be senior QB, and our next ACC representative on the 2013 Maxwell Award Watch List, Stephen Morris.

Although last year was his first year as a full-time starter after taking over for the Hurricanes’ second all-time leading passer Jacory Harris, he wasn’t going into the year inexperienced. Miami had to take the redshirt off of Morris during his 2010 freshman campaign. He started the final four games of the season before handing the reins back over to Harris for the bowl game.

Harris returned in 2011, while Morris only started one game that season.

But, when Harris did depart Coral Gables and Morris took over last season, he more than opened everyone’s eyes with his abilities under center which is why he is on this list.

Morris was stellar last season, statistically speaking, throwing for 3345 yards with 21 touchdowns and just seven interceptions. He’s tremendously poised in the pocket, has one of the strongest arms in college football, and can move around and be accurate at the same time when he has to. Now don’t mistake Morris for being a dual-threat guy by any means, because he’s not. But he has the ability to get out of trouble for the time needed to and make an accurate throw.

With that being said however, if Morris wants any consideration for the Maxwell Award, which also generally leads to Heisman consideration as well, there is one aspect of his game that he is going to have to show everyone he’s capable of getting done, and that’s showing up when the bright lights are on.

For this, all you have to do is point to two games last season against Kansas State and Notre Dame. The final scores of those contests were 52-13 and 41-3 respectively. It’s a known fact that voters for these awards look at performances in high-profile games such as these as criteria for their decisions. As the overall leader of this team, outcomes like those simply can’t occur.

This year, in games such as those against both in-state rivals the Florida Gators and Florida State Seminoles, Morris is going to have to spit out the same performance he would against a Wake Forest or a Savannah State. Proving himself against hard-nosed, proven defenses would ultimately solidify his status as one of the best quarterbacks in the nation.

And if he can show that, then he’ll also be showing that he is indeed one of the best college football players in the country as well.

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Jack is the ACC College Football Writer for Rant Sports. Follow Jack on Twitter @JackJ14RS