RECRUITING: Morley has no regrets on switch to UT

SAN ANTONIO --- There was a time when Dee Morley saw things through orange and blue glasses. After Florida's Rising Senior Camp back in July, Morley, the 6-1, 185-pound corner from Miami Killian, Morley was a Florida commitment who was talking on the phone to help recruit others to come spend the next four years in Gainesville.

When Ron Zook was fired, though, everything changed for Morley and for Florida. He's changed his commitment to Tennessee, and just as he was recruiting players to Florida, he's recruiting them to Tennessee now.

"I have no regrets about changing my commitment, but I do wish that Coach Zook had stayed at Florida," he said. "But, that didn't happen and now I'm going to Tennessee. I'm happy with the choice. I think in a year or maybe two years, Tennessee is going to play for the national championship."

Morley has shown an ability to make plays on both sides of the ball this week during practice for the East team in the US Army All-American Bowl Game. On Tuesday, he showed the ability to go deep and make catches as a wide receiver, hauling in a touchdown over Justin King, rated with Morley as the best corner prospect in the country. Thursday morning he blanketed Fred Rouse of Tallahassee Lincoln to make an interception on a deep route in which he (Morley) made up five yards with a sudden burst of speed.

A few minutes after making the pick, Morley winked and said teasingly, "You can try going deep on me, but you're going to pay the price. I line up across from these guys and tell them don't even think about it."

Playing for the East team is giving him insight to the kind of work ethic he's going to need to prepare himself to play as a freshman at Tennessee.

"This helps me get in the right mindset," he said. "I'm playing with All-Americans here. Everyone here was an All-American so you have to bring your best every day because you're going against the best.

"When I'm competing against the wide receivers, I can't take a play off here. It's not like it was in high school. Everybody here can play. Everybody in college that I'll go up against can play."

Knowing what others can do makes Morley's work ethic kick in. He's got a load of natural ability, but he's well aware that natural ability can take you only so far.

"If you don't work hard, you get left behind," he said.

The hard work applies on the practice field, on the playing field and also in the classroom. His academic house is in order enough that he could have taken early entry into the college of his choice. When he was committed to Florida, he was also strongly considering bypassing his high school graduation in June so he could enroll in January to participate in spring practice.

"I get the hard work ethic from my mama," he said. "She's been pushing me and making me work hard since day one. When I got in the ninth grade, she really started pushing me harder than ever. She got on me every day, letting me know that if I don't get the SAT and ACT scores to go with the grades, I can't go to a good college. Well, I didn't ever want to let her down.

"She pushed me hard to have everything right so that when I get to the next level I'll have the mentality to work harder than anyone else and succeed. Once I'm there in college, I'll always remember what my mama told me, to work hard and get it right. One day when I'm in the NFL, I'll be there because my mama taught me to always work harder than anyone else."

He will lobby the coaches at Tennessee to give him a chance to play both ways. He believes in himself so strongly that he believes he could succeed on either side of the ball, but rather than focus on offense or defense, he wants to do both.

"Even if I don't play a lot of offense, I can get in there and go for a deep pass or take a short pass and make something happen," he said. "I know I've been blessed with the ability to make big plays. I want to be a difference maker. I believe that when I'm on the football field I'm a difference maker."

He admits he's thought many times about the day he made the choice to de-commit from Florida.

"I know that I made the right choice when I committed to Florida first time, and I know that I made the right choice when I de-committed and made the commitment to Tennessee," he said. "I wish Florida nothing but good luck except that one game every year when they play the Vols."

The U.S. Army All-American Bowl is played in San Antonio, Texas at the Alamodome on Jan. 15, 2005, and broadcast nationally on NBC at 1 p.m. EST. is a sponsor, the official selection partner and exclusive on-line partner of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, as well as the associated U.S. Army Combine for underclassmen.

Demetrice Morley

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