The purpose of today’s post is simple - to wish “Happy Birthday” to a special Wolverine named Jamie Morris. According to the 1987 Michigan Football Media Guide, James Walter “Jamie” Morris was born on June 6, 1965 at Southern Pines, North Carolina. Jamie’s father, Earl Morris was serving in the United States Army at the time. Later, however, the Morris family moved to Ayer, Massachusetts which is where Jamie grew up.
Jamie grew up to be an outstanding athlete at Ayer High School where he was a record-setting running back and sprinter on the track team. He caught Bo’s eye. Schembechler figured that the speedy, but undersized, Morris could shine on special teams and maybe at wide receiver. Bo offered Jamie a scholarship to play primarily on special teams and Jamie accepted it in 1984.
(Note - Jamie Morris was a record-setting running back at Michigan from 1984 to 1987. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library at The University of Michigan.)
Morris Arrived in Ann Arbor in 1984 - Determined to Prove Himself to Bo
Jamie Morris arrived in Ann Arbor in 1984. Although Bo didn’t know it, Jamie came to Michigan to play on offense, not just special teams. Morris wanted to be Bo’s running back and that’s exactly what happened. The 1984 season was a disaster by Bo’s standards. The team was riddled with injuries and finished with a record of 6 wins and 6 losses. However, Jamie took advantage of a BIG opportunity. He only started four games, but led the team in rushing with 574 yards and averaged 4.9 yards per carry. Jamie knew that if Bo gave him more carries, he would get the yards!
Morris made strong contributions to the “healthier” Michigan team that won 10 games, lost 1 and tied 1 in 1985. That team also finished second in the nation and beat Nebraska in the 1986 Fiesta Bowl. Jamie pushed his rushing average to 5.2 yards per carry. He totaled 197 carries and totaled 1,030 yards for the season. He also excelled on special teams and proved to be a very effective receiver out of the backfield. Yes, Bo had found his running back!
Jamie settled in at tailback in 1986. He started eleven games and rushed for another 1,086 yards. He earned first team All-Conference honors and the Matthaei Award for his outstanding performance on the field and in the classroom. More importantly, Jamie helped Michigan win a share of the Big Ten Championship in 1986.
According to the Bentley Historical Website, Jamie Morris started 38 games and departed Ann Arbor as a record-setting running back. In fact, he left Michigan as the all-time leader in rushing yards with 4,393 yards. Jamie set a ton of records during his career and his name is still all over the Michigan Football Record Book. His greatest achievement, in my opinion, was becoming the first man in the history of Michigan Football to lead the team in rushing for four consecutive seasons. When you think about the punishment that a running back takes and multiple it by four seasons - Jamie’s feat was most impressive! Only Mike Hart was able to duplicate this amazing achievement. The Wikipedia article linked below has a detailed listing of Jamie’s significant accomplishments at Michigan. Check it out!
I know that Jamie Morris exceeded all expectations that Bo Schembechler had for him. He worked his tail off to prove to Bo that he was talented enough and tough enough to be a big-time running back at Michigan. So, when he left, he was the best ever. Pound for pound, Jamie Morris is the most productive offensive player in the history of Michigan Football – period!
Yes, today is a great day to appreciate the accomplishments of Jamie Morris. He is one more reason why Michigan is the winningest program in the history of college football. Thanks for the memories Jamie and Go Blue!
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