We are almost a year and two weeks removed from the 2012 NFL Draft, but every now and then stories come along that are far more powerful in retrospect than can be fully appreciated at the time.
Take for example, the magical rookie season of Redskins running back Alfred Morris.
In a draft dominated by Robert Griffin III, Morris barely got mentioned in post-draft analysis, and was considered an also-ran in a presumably competitive running back stable.
How could 32 teams pass on one of the NFL’s top rushers and all-around good guys six times before the Redskins landed him at 173?
It’s a question that will hopefully plague NFL general managers for years to come, as the Redskins went from an anemic rushing attack in 2011 to the toast of the league on Morris’s shoulder pads.
Courtesy of Florida Atlantic University’s student magazine, University Press, we get some of Morris’s last thoughts before the 2012 NFL Scouting Combine, and a quote that foreshadows his future success:
The piece, written by Rolando Rosa, checks in on the unheralded Alfred Morris who is working to kick down the door to the NFL by training 12 hours a day:
He wakes up at 6 a.m. everyday to workout. For twelve hours. These grueling sessions consist of weight lifting, cardio, communication, mental and visual training, as well as on the field drills.
Some days often include no breaks.
“I’m just getting ready for the combine,” he said. “All the hard work I put in at the pee-wee level, the high school level, the college level. Just, wanting all my hard work to pay off. The biggest interview I’ll ever be in is in the combine.”
Having just returned from the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., Morris recalled a compliment from a certain NFL head coach:
Morris led all East rushers in the Shrine game with 32 yards on nine carries. In the Senior Bowl, he played out of position as a fullback, but was praised after the game by a Super Bowl champion coach.
“I was able to show that I’m versatile, and I can play more than one position,” Morris said. “After the game, Coach Shanahan (Washington Redskins head coach) flagged me down and told me I did a good job. So that was just icing on the cake.”
Icing on the cake, yes. Thirteen touchdowns and 1,613 yards of sweet, sweet icing.
Following Morris’s rookie season, Shanahan compared Alfred Morris to another former prodigy Terrell Davis in terms of his overall package as a player.
Morris’s former coach at FAU set his sights a little higher during Morris’s senior season, comparing him to Dolphins’ Hall of Fame running back Larry Csonka:
Howard Schnellenberger…after [Morris] ran for an FAU-record 198 yards on 38 carries in a victory over UAB.
“The only time I’ve seen what I saw out there tonight was when I was with the Dolphins, and I watched Larry Csonka run roughshod over all the defenders that tried to bring him down,” Schnellenberger said after the game.
According to the story, Morris had the chance to be the first running back ever drafted out of FAU, and only the third player overall.
Morris flashes his patented Alfred humility at the suggestion, giving credit to everyone else besides himself:
“It would be good to join the ranks of the best Owls that got drafted from this university,” Morris said. “It would speak volumes about me as a player coming from a young program, but to still make it obviously to that level would mean a lot.
“Not just for me, but for FAU and for my family. It would prove that hard work pays off in the end.”
Morris had no way of knowing how true that statement would be in 2013, but he has become the poster child for late-round draft gems.
The article covers the spectrum and is well worth a read. The best line closes out the story, and I can’t think of a better way to end this post either.
“There’s 32 teams. I only need one to like me,” Morris said. “Whichever one that is, is exactly where I need to be.”