Morrison Healthy, Confident For Spring

After suffering an ankle injury at the end of fall camp James Morrison spent the entire 2008 season recovering. Now healthy, Morrison is ready to make his presence known, as he did before his injury, and earn some carries in spring ball.

James Morrison came to Arizona State last fall with little notoriety and without a scholarship. Yet, after a handful of impressive practices and scrimmages in his first few weeks in Tempe the Phoenix St. Mary's running back had Sun Devil fans buzzing.

The unknown freshman showed surprising breakaway speed despite his sturdy 5'11", 220 pound frame. He was so dominant he had onlookers wondering if he was going to steal carries away from then senior starter Keegan Herring.

Alas, Morrison broke his ankle midway through fall camp and had to be shelved.

"It was tough, both mentally and physically," recalled Morrison. "Just getting out there on a sore ankle while it was really swollen. I had to take it day-by-day, take it slow and do what I was told (in rehab)."

"It feels like one hundred percent right now. I have a brace on for a little added protection but it feels great, I'm ready to go."

Even though he got injured and was not able to practice, Morrison left an indelible mark on head coach Dennis Erickson and his staff. The Sun Devil skipper thought highly enough of the Phoenix native to extend a scholarship offer this off-season, while the running back was still rehabbing his ankle, and it is an honor not overlooked by Morrison.

"It was very rewarding," remarked Morrison. "I don't have to worry about anything anymore. It's all school and football."

Now that his hype has somewhat dissipated and the frustration of not being able to play is gone Morrison is excited to get back out on the field and remind everyone what he is capable of. Through one week of spring practice, the running back is happy with the course of his progression.

"I feel really good," commented Morrison. "It's nice to get back to football, playing again. It's just nice to be out with the team. I won't say it felt good to get hit again but it was good being out here, smacking pads, talking and everything."

As a whole, the running back group struggled in 2008. Herring spent most of the year injured, Dimitri Nance never found his groove, Shaun DeWitty showed flashes but couldn't find consistency, and Ryan Bass never really even got a chance to live up to his high school accolades.

With Herring gone, the competition may be more wide open at running back than at any other position. The young talent coach Erickson and his staff have amassed at the position is impressive and if either Bass or Morrison don't grab the starting job another freshman, Cameron Marshall, is supposed to come in to fall camp and compete as well.

"We're coming along," said Morrison. "We have new coaches and we're trying to gel. We have individual meetings and we have positional meetings. We're doing what we can to get back to being successful."

The new coach Morrison is referring to is new running backs coach Bryce Erickson. Erickson, son of head coach Dennis, replaces now tight ends coach Jamie Christian and seems to be doing well with the position.

"He (Bryce) is a good coach," noted Morrison. "He knows what he's talking about. He's young, energetic and goes one on one in meetings to make sure we know what we're doing. He's yelling, we always hear him constantly in the back. He's the young, energetic coach we need."

As spring practices continue to unfold, Morrison is going to keep following his path of hard work and perseverance and hope his early success is sustained.

"My goals for spring practice are to go one hundred percent every day," he said. "No matter how sore I am, just keeping working hard and hopefully it will pay off."

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