Derek Morris is quite possibly the highest rated offensive lineman to ever sign with NC State out of high school. He looked solid as the 2003 season wore down but recently found himself behind Jonathan Holt on the Pack's depth chart. Pack Pride spoke to Morris recently for his take on the Pack program and the upcoming season.
What do you think about the new uniforms?
"Man, this is like the Atlanta Falcons. I don't know, I just feel like I've got some oomph in my step or something. I don't know what it is, I just feel good in them."
What size are you at now?
"6-6 and a quarter, 327 pounds."
How much are you benching?
"I can throw up about 525 (pounds)."
How has camp gone for you so far?
"Camp was a little rough at first, just getting back into things. I didn't practice in the spring because of an abdominal injury so just getting back into it was the biggest thing for me. You know coach Barry is always riding me so it's rough anyway but just to get through camp, get my focus back, get the plays back, just getting back into football shape- then everything will run smooth."
You mentioned coach Barry riding you. Is that because he feels like there's something in there he's trying to pull out?
"He tells me that and I believe him. I mean, I've known coach Barry since I was 15. So it was expected for him to ride me just because of our relationship. I think he just pushes me because he sees a lot in me and he has high expectations and he wants me to reach them. He doesn't want me to settle for less. I think that's one of the reasons why he pushes me."
Anything you need to work on at this point?
"I want to be a better run blocker. A lot of people see me as a better pass blocker and that's true. Overall, I just want to be the best offensive lineman in the country so I need to be a great run blocker and a great pass blocker. There's always room to get better so I just want to improve at run blocking, learning how to take my steps, be better with my hands and just get better overall."
Speaking of run blocking, do you think you'll be doing more of that this year with so many talented backs on offense?
"We've got some good backs. I mean, even if Philip was here, I think we'd run the ball anyway because Bobby (Washington) and Darrell (Blackman), man, those guys, they make the game a lot easier so whatever we're going to do, we're going to do it whether it be running or passing."
"Darrell is a guy that hits the hole at 100 mph. He's not really a juke guy. He can juke you but once he gets in front of you, you can forget it. Bobby, he hits the hole just as fast but he'll give you a juke move. He's like a Barry Sanders type because he's shifty in the hips and they're just so fast hitting the corner, that helps us on our reach blocking. Like in the scrimmage yesterday, Bobby hit the corner on goalline (drills) and he was already in the end zone and it was just beautiful."
Do you ever catch yourself just watching when those guys are doing there thing?
"Yeah, yesterday in practice. I mean, I'm reach blocking and the RB, he's already past me. My job is done so things happen fast with both of them because they're so quick."
You missed the Ohio State game last year. Is that pretty much behind you now or still a game of importance for you?
"It's just another big game. I mean, our schedule is just ridiculous this year. Ohio State, Miami, Richmond- we play a lot of good teams but when that game gets here, of course it's going to be in the back of my head because I'm getting ready to play the guys I was going to be with so of course it's circled on my schedule. Every game is circled on my schedule but of course that's a big game for me.
Are you glad things worked out for you to come to NC State?
"I'm real happy. At first I didn't really know if I wanted to come here or not. But I just remember my grandmother and mother telling me that everything was going to work out for the best and it just seems like everything's fallen into place with the schedule, the people we're playing, just playing, the coaches, all that."