The Wolverine

November 2021

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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50 THE WOLVERINE NOVEMBER 2021 BY EJ HOLLAND T yler Morris had already been through so much. With the COVID-19 pandemic rag- ing on, high school football in the state of Illinois was canceled for 2020. Morris, ranked as the No. 14 wide receiver and No. 141 overall prospect nationally by Ri-, was supposed to be part of a dynamic duo along with elite quarter- back J.J. McCarthy at La Grange Park (Ill.) Nazareth Academy. Morris and McCarthy led Nazareth Academy to a state title appearance in 2019 and had aspirations of winning it all. Instead, the two never got the oppor- tunity. McCarthy transferred to national powerhouse Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Acad- emy for his senior season and signed with Michigan that December. Morris watched as high schools around the country took the field, while those in Illinois had to wait. Finally, an announce- ment of a four-game spring season pro- vided a glimmer of hope. There would be no magical season or state title, but at least it was something. Morris starred on both sides of the ball for Nazareth Academy. The offense ran through him at wide receiver, and he made several plays on the defensive side of the ball at safety. Morris notched two interceptions in Nazareth Academy's final spring contest. However, the second one would prove to be the final play of his high school ca- reer. "I was floating out trying to guard the receiver and went up for the ball," Morris said. "I came down with it and felt my knee buckle. I don't really know what happened after that, but I couldn't walk on it or anything. I was hoping it wasn't my ACL. I felt my bones kind of move, so I was hoping I just dislocated my knee. But I knew it wasn't good." Morris remained motionless on the field for a good five minutes before be- ing moved over to the training table on the Nazareth Academy sideline while his team continued to battle in a defensive struggle against Niles (Ill.) Notre Dame. A fierce competitor by nature, Morris had a look of despair on his face when teammates tapped his shoulder pads in a gesture of support. It wasn't until after the game that Morris' worst nightmare became a reality — the diagnosis was in fact a torn ACL. Once considered a catastrophic injury for football players, torn ACLs still carry that old-school stigma. However, full re- coveries are common, and many players go on to have great careers post-injury; arguably the greatest football player ever, Michigan Man Tom Brady, is still going strong at the age of 44 after tearing his ACL back in 2008. Morris' father, Michael, knows a thing or two about the injury. After all, the elder Morris tore his ACL when he was in high school. It was almost déjà vu — Michael suffered the injury at the same age on the same leg. "I just told him about the experience that I had," Michael said. "You can recover from this. You can still play. There is just a lot of hard work ahead of you. We wanted him to keep his spirits up and refocus. It's not the plan that we had, but things can change. Let's not let this derail every- thing. The interesting thing is we had just talked about making it through the season without an injury, just with it being weird with a shortened season. "It was more of a 'really?' than an 'oh   FOOTBALL RECRUITING Tyler Morris Has Battled Adversity And Looks Forward To Being A Wolverine Morris tore his ACL in a game last April while making an interception, which sped up his recruitment so that he could focus on school and rehab. He is now on schedule and hopes to be ready to participate in spring ball after enrolling early at U-M. PHOTO BY EJ HOLLAND

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