Michigan’s defense has a lot of question marks heading into the season — and their overall success will hinge on players who haven’t played an abundance of snaps in their career to this point. One of those players is redshirt sophomore defensive end Mike Morris, who may be in line for an increase in snaps in 2021.
The story so far
Morris hails from Delray Beach, Florida and attended American Heritage where he played along the defensive line and at tight end. Morris put up 13 sacks as a freshman, 84 tackles (31 for loss) and 4 sacks as a junior, 85 tackles (25 for loss) and five sacks as a senior. Morris’ production led to a three-star ranking and being rated as the No. 27 strong side defensive end in the 2019 class.
Morris held offers from Michigan, Florida State, Tennessee, Florida, Oklahoma, Miami, and Clemson, among others and chose Florida State. However, Morris would eventually de-commit from FSU and chose Michigan.
“They really just say that I’m a very athletic and a hard nose football player. I’m working on my speed and power, so I can take over the game like Rashan Gary,” Morris said in 2018. Morris hasn’t had the impact that Gary had right out of the gate, which was to be expected. Morris has needed time to add weight to his 6-foot-6 frame.
After not receiving any playing time in 2019, Morris got onto the field against Wisconsin in 2020 and made his first and only tackle to this point in his career.
Outlook moving forward
Morris came to Michigan weighing around 255 pounds, and he’s added over twenty pounds to his frame since then — and will need to be around 280-290 at the very least to be an anchor.
“He seems like a smart football player who understands his role as a defensive lineman. It’s not just “see ball, chase ball” with Morris,” The Athletic’s Nick Baumgardner said in 2019. “But, ultimately, his offer sheet was impressive — I think — because he has quite a bit of athletic versatility. He’s a Year 2 or 3 player, with everything dependent on how soon he can add weight and strength to his frame. But an underrated prospect on the surface.”
Morris in now in Year 3, and he’s added weight and strength to his frame, and if there’s a year where he become a rotational piece along the d-line, it’s going to be this season. With new defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald in the fold we could see Morris’ play some snaps at outside linebacker as situational pass-rusher as well. If the talent is there, Morris will see the field in some capacity and add to his career total of 1 tackle.