IOWA CITY, Ia. – Ask James Morris about the legacy his class has left on the Iowa football program, and he doesn’t mince words.
“If we’re being completely honest and objective here, I don’t think we can say it’s been a particularly strong one,” the senior-to-be linebacker said. “That’s being brutally honest.”
The Hawkeyes went 8-5 in 2010, when Morris was a freshman, then 7-6 in 2011 and 4-8 last season.
“I’m not happy about it,” Morris said. “But I am excited that we’ve got one more opportunity to change things. And that’s what we’re really focused on. What can we do to get this thing turned around, and leave a legacy, or leave a mark that we’re proud of?”
Morris will be flanked by Christian Kirksey and Anthony Hitchens, giving Iowa three senior linebackers with experience heading into the 2013 season.
“I think all three linebackers have the chance to play in the NFL,” Iowa linebackers coach and seven-year NFL veteran LeVar Woods said. “I do.”
Hitchens led the team with 124 tackles last season, which was also No. 1 in the Big Ten and sixth nationally. Morris has 29 career starts, and ranked third in the Big Ten with 113 tackles. Kirksey has started the last 25 games and had 95 tackles a season ago. His four fumble recoveries ranked second nationally.
Hitchens said Woods’ NFL words make him feel good.
“That doesn’t mean it’s a guarantee,” Hitchens said. “What we need to focus on is today, getting better, trying to stack the good days back to back. And hopefully we’ll get a chance to play in the NFL.
Hitchens likes having experienced linebackers on the field with him at the same time.
“It makes my job a lot easier when James is calling out the plays before they even run them,” Hitchens said. “I’m thankful to have two linebackers with more experience than me that I can lean on and help me throughout the season.”
As a group, Woods said Iowa’s linebackers “have been a hungry group. I think the whole team has been that way, and excited to improve.”
Building depth at linebacker has been another area of emphasis this spring, with guys like Quinton Alston, Cole Fisher, Marcus Collins, Laron Taylor, Travis Perry and John Kenny in the mix.
But it’s Morris, Kirksey and Hitchens that stand to make the biggest impact at linebacker in 2013. And they’re got one more chance to leave a positive legacy.
“That’s my goal, and the goal of a lot of my teammates right now, to leave something we can be proud of and the fans can be proud of,” Morris said. “Then you can look back and say, “Hey, you know what? The first part wasn’t what we wanted, but we got this thing straightened out.’ ”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football