California has offered 15 linebackers for the class of 2017, and the Golden Bears have had four of them visit in the past week, including, this weekend, James Houston IV and David Morris. Morris, a versatile defensive athlete out of Sherwood (Ore.), visited for the spring game with his father, and the visit was certainly a hit.
"My dad, he said it was awesome," Morris told BearTerritory on Monday, while studying for his ACT. "Obviously, you're getting a great education there. We wanted to check out the coaches, see how they are, and how the facilities are, as well. Overall, my dad loved it."
One thing that Morris, himself, could see during the game was that, first, the Bears need linebackers, and two, that the coaching the current linebackers are getting from defensive coordinator Art Kaufman pays off.
"During the spring game, what really stood out to me was the way that the linebackers were being taught," he said. "I was able to go into a linebacker meeting, and coach Kaufman was telling the linebackers what they needed to work on, because they were watching some previous practice film. They were really focusing on technique, and then, I noticed what he told them in that meeting, they were literally doing the same exact moves -- the same everything, perfect, to the tee -- in the spring game, so I really thought that that was cool. There were some hard hitters."
Morris in particular noticed Derron Brown, who tallied a sack during the contest. Morris plays safety in high school, and Brown came to Cal as a safety, before putting on some weight to work at outside linebacker. Right now, Morris -- at 6-foot-3, 205 pounds -- is about the same size as Brown has gotten to, in order to be a linebacker, so he saw plenty of similarities.
"I love how he went from a safety to a linebacker, so the change for me to be a linebacker in college, it was cool to watch him and see how he played," Morris said. "Personally, I thought he was the best in the spring game."
"When [the game] ended, and most of the recruits left, I got a private tour of the campus, and all that, and that was awesome, and it gave me even more insight about the school, and how my life would be for the next four or five years," Morris said.
Defensive quality control assistant Carlos Alvarado took tour guide duties, but Morris also got time to chat with Kaufman.
"Just real down-to-earth guys, those two," Morris said. "They know their stuff. They know what they're teaching, and they have a plan that is working, so they're really just implementing it. I was able to sit in a room when Kaufman was teaching the other linebackers, and I liked being there, and knowing that, eventually, if I was to be there, this is the way that it's being coached, and I would understand what he was saying. It all just clicked -- what he was saying, what he was trying to get across, the mistakes that were happening in practice and how to fix it -- he was awesome."
The Bears are enticed by Morris's motor and his versatility on the field. Last season, Morris -- the top linebacker in Oregon -- led Sherwood with 77 tackles, with one tackle for loss, one interception and five pass breakups.
"They loved how I played, and what they really like about me is that I'm a hybrid," Morris said. "I can play multiple positions, and I'm that linebacker that can go and guard a receiver, and who can also come up to the line and make a tackle on a running back. They were talking about how they loved what I could do. They're not worried about my athletic ability. They said, 'We can put weight on you, and you'll be top-notch here.'"
You can't teach motor, and that's what Morris has. He also has a 3.2 GPA, and will be taking the ACT on Tuesday.
"Honestly, I felt like I was treated like I was really important," he said. "For me, that felt good, because that really showed that they really want me to be at their school, and it's not just an offer. They really said that I could come down here and make a difference, and play early. They really made me feel important."
"I really felt like when I went last time, I really had never talked to them, and I finally increased the communication with the coaches and stuff, and the letters, so I'd like to visit one more time," he said.
Morris also said that he would "definitely" try to get back to Berkeley, but that won't be for a few months.