Kirk Morrison may have come from a Mountain West school but he is widely known to NFL teams. Morrison had formal interviews and/or private visits with New England, Denver, New Orleans, Indianapolis, Philadelphia, San Diego, Carolina and Kansas City. He also talked with Baltimore and Green Bay.
"I keep (a Ray Lewis jersey) in there because he's been the staple of excellence at the linebacker position, and if you want to be the best you have to start with him," said Morrison. "If you're going to model your game after anybody, you have to model it after him."
A three-time, first-team All-Mountain West Conference selection, Morrison became the face of the Aztecs and is the first defender of note to come out of San Diego State in a long time.
"For me, it was just something that was given to me," Morrison said of the prestige. "Playing as a freshman and sophomore and being a mainstay out there was kind of easy, me being a guy that I think a lot of the community could follow. A big media guy like me could go out there and be turned into the poster child of San Diego State. I just see it as a blessing, being that I play defense, linebacker especially, and the position isn't as glorified as much as offensive positions. Anything like this, I just had to take advantage of. I may never get another opportunity like this again, so I was like, ‘I need to take full advantage of this.'"
And the accolades are warranted. Morrison recorded 115 tackles, nine for a loss, one interception and three fumble recoveries as a senior.
The previous year, Morrison had 117 tackles, 17 for a loss, with four forced fumbles, 3.5 sacks and an interception.
"I feel my best attribute is my instincts. I do a lot of film preparation. I watch it at home. Sometimes I can just pop a tape in and watch my opponent for the week. I think that when you watch your opponent so many times, you get to a comfort zone. When you're in the game, you've seen that play a hundred times already, and you know how it's going to work. My instincts always take me to the ball.
"That's probably the biggest thing. Toughness and durability, durability especially. My greatest college accomplishment was starting in 43 consecutive games. I never missed a game in college. I could have started all of them, but I was a freshman and they didn't want to start me young. The first four weeks, I had to go out and show them on special teams. I was special teams player of the week for two out of the first four weeks. In the fourth game the middle linebacker went down for the year. I stepped into the spot and I never relinquished it for the rest of my career."
Morrison attributes his success to an offseason workout regimen that includes working with trainer Doug Hicks.
His schedule isn't as hectic as many of those who attend workout camps such as Athlete's Performance but it is up to Morrison to make his schedule and stick to it.
The difference between the two is Morrison goes everyday to see Hicks and shows his dedication to the game by making the trip to workout with Hicks on a daily basis.
"I'm very passionate. Football is my life. That's what I love to do.
"I could talk football all day long. I did some work with (former Chargers linebacker) Billy Ray Smith just last year. We just sat there and talked football. That's just my thing. I could talk football all day long, until you don't want to talk anymore. That's what I mean about my passion for the game. I'm always looking for more and more knowledge because no one knows the whole game of football, has mastered it. The Patriots have come close to it, but no one can be confident in knowing everything about the game. I'm just trying to get as much knowledge as I can. I feel like I'm learning every day. I had a workout with the Green Bay Packers, and the stuff they were teaching me was like, ‘wow, I could have used this year in college. I could have been even more productive.' If you ever think that you've learned the game already, you really haven't."
Although he will start at the bottom of the totem pole as a rookie in the NFL, Morrison has no plans for relinquishing his 43-game streak. He is ready to contribute today and will do so as a humble rookie.
Calling the plays as a 19-year old freshman earned him the respect of his teammates. He was well prepared from hard work and giving everything he had each time he stepped on the field, whether it was practice or a game.
Now, he brings those attributes to the NFL.
Primed for the big time
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