Wooten Grows as a Player and a Person

After the way the 2008 season started, some wondered if Morris Wooten would even get to play in senior day. Suspended for violating team rules for the first three games, Wooten fell behind in the depth chart early on. However, he utilized his hiatus to re-evaluate himself as a football player and as a person and not only made it to senior day, but recorded a career-high 17 tackles against UCLA.

"I was suspended, it was a learning experience for me, I sat out for my punishment," said Wooten, "I was able to become more of a student of the game, a visual learner."

While Wooten was sidelined, junior Gerald Munns cemented himself in the middle of ASU's linebacker corps, but after Munns was lost for the season due to personal reasons, Wooten knew he had to step up.

"I watched Gerald Munns in front of me, watched a lot of film," explained the senior linebacker, "It was a time off that shouldn't have been off, but it was meant to be to help be become a better player."

Following Munns' departure, Wooten jumped right into the thick of things and played well. Wooten is currently third on the team in tackles, just one behind fellow linebacker Travis Goethel – an impressive accomplishment considering he missed three games.

"I learned I can't make the same mistakes in a business like this," remarked Wooten, "I moved on from that and became a better ballplayer."

Senior day will be something Wooten never forgets either. The senior looked like a man among boys, flying around the field and collecting a jaw dropping 17 stops.

"I have to say it was," replied Wooten when asked if the UCLA game was the best of his career, "I was mentally prepared for it, I worked hard during the week trying to learn their offense so I could be faster."

Wooten noted it meant even more that his remarkable feat took place on Senior Day, in front of his family and friends. The former Phoenix Maryvale High School and Glendale Community College standout played with that extra fire because of the love and support he got when introduced at Sun Devil Stadium one last time.

"It means a lot to me, because it was my last game (at home) and I was trying to help my team get to a bowl," said Wooten, who originally committed to West Virginia out of junior college, but changed his mind just a few days after Dennis Erickson was hired at ASU.

"I'm from Arizona; I always wanted to play here. To be here and get a chance to play on that field for my last game, it was emotional. I was pumped up and how the fans expressed their emotions to me, it just fueled me. I had that extra energy for the fans."

Wooten also got to be part of a record performance by his defense, which scored four defensive touchdowns. He said that it all had to do with the unit's preparation for the Bruins.

"We worked for it, we prepared hard during the week," stated Wooten, "We knew if we put ourselves in the right spots and get tipped balls, we were going to get some picks. It was just a team effort and preparation throughout the week."

Wooten knew that ASU was going to make plays on defense, as long as they were in the right places to take advantage of mistakes by UCLA and head into the Arizona game full of confidence.

"We are," laughed Wooten, ""We feel like we are clicking on all cylinders. We are feeling good and we are ready to play. Everybody is in the mode of preparation and that is how you beat a good team."

It will be the first time Wooten gets to experience the Territorial Cup contest, as a junior college transfer, he was injured for last season's ASU victory in Tempe.

"This victory over U of A is the big one," said Wooten, "We have to get this one. It means just as much to me as Senior Day."

Being a local product obviously gives a unique perspective as well to Wooten.

"I don't like those guys," said Wooten of ASU's archrival. "I want to represent where I am from. I am out there to win, I want to go out there and get the victory and help Arizona State get the cup."

Despite the rivalry, Wooten feels no added pressure. To him, it is just another fight to try to extend his career and get ASU to a bowl game.

"It is just another game," commented Wooten. "Our success is going to come from our preparation; there is no pressure at all. It is on me to get ready."

Win or lose on Saturday, Wooten sees this season as a success. He has not only enjoyed success on the football field, but also off of it.

"I take from this season a positive look and growth," said Wooten.

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