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Harvard Yardage
Pete McEntegart
November 04, 2002
Soccer star turned wideout Carl Morris is rewriting the Crimson record book and catching scouts' eyes
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November 04, 2002

Harvard Yardage

Soccer star turned wideout Carl Morris is rewriting the Crimson record book and catching scouts' eyes

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Five Ivy Prospects
Here are five other league standouts.

PLAYER

SCHOOL

CLASS

POS.

HT.

WT.

Chas Gessner

Brown

Sr.

WR

6'5"

220

Lacrosse All-America leads Division l-AA in catches per game (11.3); tied Jerry Rice's NCAA record of 24 versus Rhode Island on Oct. 5

Dante Balestracci Harvard

Jr.

LB

6'2"

235

Two-time All-Ivy pick has 58 tackles, three sacks and an interception this season

Brian Mann

Dartmouth

Sr.

QB

6'2"

205

The pass-run threat ranks fifth in Division l-AA in total offense (312.3 yards per game)

Robert Carr

Yale

Soph.

RB

5'7"

185

Ivy leader in rushing (130.0 ypg); has 8 TDs; could threaten Ed Marinaro's league sophomore rushing mark

Vince Alexander

Penn

Sr.

DB

6'1"

220

Big hitter tied for Ivy lead in interceptions (4)

Carl Morris didn't want to make a scene. That's why he waited until he was kissing his parents goodbye as he left his home in Sterling, Va., for his junior year at Episcopal High, a boarding school 30 miles away in Alexandria, to inform them that the Episcopal soccer team's leading scorer had decided to become a wide receiver. Morris excelled in basketball and baseball in addition to soccer, but he had always wanted to play football. His parents had barred him from the sport when he was growing up, fearing he might be injured because of the lack of experienced coaches at the youth level. They hadn't expressly forbidden him to play high school football, but Carl wasn't taking any chances. "I told them I was joining the football team, and then I was off," says Morris. "That way there wasn't much time for discussion."

Morris caught just eight passes as a high school junior before blossoming as a senior. Because of his late start in the sport few Division I-A schools got a good read on his talent early enough to make a recruiting push. He wanted to go to Virginia along with his high school quarterback, Bryson Spinner, but the Cavaliers put him on hold while they waited to hear from another wide receiver recruit. Meanwhile Morris's father urged him to fill out the questionnaire from Harvard. Carl did, and then learned that he had a second cousin, Mike Brooks, who was the Crimson's starting strong safety. Morris visited the school and felt at home.

Now he's at home in the Harvard record book. The 6'3", 205-pound senior holds all but one of the school's nine major receiving records. Last year he had 71 catches for 943 yards and 12 touchdowns, winning Ivy League Player of the Year honors and keying Harvard's 9-0 season, its first perfect campaign since 1913. Those figures all broke single-season school records that Morris had set or tied as a sophomore. This year Morris, who runs a 4.45 40, has 52 receptions for 811 yards and five scores through six games for the 4-2 Crimson, adding to his career marks with every grab. "What makes Carl exceptional is his ability to raise his level of intensity and do things that even outstanding athletes can't typically do," says Harvard coach Tim Murphy. "He can seemingly will things to happen."

Morris burnished that reputation against Dartmouth last season. In a span of just 3:51 he helped the Crimson overcome a 21-0 deficit by throwing a 35-yard touchdown pass, catching a 32-yard touchdown pass, returning a punt 15 yards and catching a 40-yard pass down to the Big Green's five-yard line. Against Penn in a late-season showdown of Ivy unbeatens, Morris made what Harvard Square denizens refer to reverentially as the Catch: a full-speed, full-extension fingertip grab of a seemingly overthrown pass that he took into the end zone for a 62-yard go-ahead touchdown in the Crimson's 28-21 win.

At times it seems Morris simply can't be stopped by Ivy defenses. On Oct. 12 against Cornell, Harvard quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick threw Morris's way on five straight plays. The results: four catches, followed by defensive pass interference. Morris finished the day with a ho-hum 11 catches for 165 yards, including a 54-yard score. He also returned two punts for 27 yards and ran a reverse for 23. "He's more skillful than the guys we have out there," said Cornell coach Tim Pendergast. "We can't do anything about that."

Morris's next home will likely be in the NFL. Murphy says Moore has received more pro interest than any other player he's coached in his nine seasons at Harvard, including Vikings All-Pro center Matt Birk and Seahawks starting middle linebacker Isaiah Kacyvenski. "There's no question he has the size and athleticism, and he has upside because he's played so little competitive football compared to other guys," says one NFL scout, who sees Morris as a fifth-rounder.

Morris will get to show his ability against players from bigger programs at the East-West Shrine Game in January. He'll finish his degree in economics in June but plans not to use it for a while. "It's every kid's dream to play in the NFL," Morris says. "Hopefully I can make it work for a couple of years before I have to get a real job." Rest assured, Vern and Jane Morris are already on board with that decision.

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

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