James Walter "Jamie" Morris (born June 6, 1965 in Southern Pines, North Carolina) is a former professional American football running back in the National Football League (NFL) for the Washington Redskins and a record-setting running back in college for the University of Michigan Wolverines. While attending the Michigan, he broke the school's all-time records for rushing yards in a season and in a career and for all-purpose yards in a career. His career rushing total was once third in Big Ten Conference history. He continues to hold the career receptions record for Michigan running backs. He also still holds the all-time NFL record for most rushing attempts in a game with 45.
Morris is from Ayer, Massachusetts where he excelled in track and field in high school, winning the Massachusetts state title in the 200m as a sophomore.
Morris is the younger brother of Joe Morris who set the all-time rushing record at Syracuse University and went on to play for the New York Giants. Jamie and Joe and two brothers and two sisters grew up in Ayer. Their father, Earl Morris, a former Green Beret master sergeant in Vietnam, was a postmaster in Groton, Massachusetts.
College Football at Michigan
Michigan's all-time leader in all-purpose yards
Morris played college football at the University of Michigan from 1984 to 1987 and broke the school's all-time rushing records in yards gained in a season (1,703 yards) and a career (4,392 yards). Though those records were broken 13 years later by Anthony Thomas, Morris still holds the U-M school record for all-purpose yards with 6,201. Morris was also the only player in Michigan history to lead the Wolverines in rushing for four years until Mike Hart did so from 2004–2007. In addition to his rushing yards, he had 99 receptions for 756 yards and 51 kickoff returns for 1,027 yards. He ranks fourth in U-M history in kickoff return yards. He also still ranks third in U-M history in rushing yards in a season and career. Morris was setting Michigan records during the same years Lorenzo White, the Big Ten's first 2000-yard rusher, was totaling 4,887 yards for the Michigan State Spartans. Neither reached Archie Griffin's 5,589 yard total. Morris was a very versatile running back who was the first Michigan back to total over 30 receptions in a season and remains the only back to have done so twice. He continues to hold the career receptions record for running backs with 99.
In 1986, Morris suffered a knee injury in a game against Florida State. He sat out a game and then came back to play against Ohio State. While he recouperated Thomas Wilcher rushed for 74 yards and two touchdowns against Wisconsin. When Morris returned, he had the best game of his college career against the Buckeyes, gaining 210 yards rushing (302 all-purpose yards) to help the Wolverines win the game and advance to the Rose Bowl. The Wolverines lost the 1987 Rose Bowl to Arizona State 22-15.
Morris also holds the record for the longest run in Outback Bowl history—a 77-yard touchdown run on January 2, 1988 in a 28-24 victory over Alabama. Morris was named MVP of the game, then known as the Hall of Fame Bowl.
Despite setting Michigan's all-time rushing records, Morris' small size (5 feet, 7 inches) led to his not being selected until the fourth round of the 1988 NFL Draft by the Washington Redskins. He played three seasons from 1988-1990. His best year was 1988 when he played in all 16 games for the Redskins, and rushed for 437 yards in 126 attempts. During his career, Morris twice rushed for at least 100 yards in a game. Morris also set the NFL record for the most rushing attempts in a game with 45, in a December 17, 1988 game against the Cincinnati Bengals. The Redskins' web site describes Morris' record-setting performance as follows: "On the morning of Dec. 17, the Redskins had a 7-8 record coming into the season finale at Cincinnati. ... With no hope of returning to the playoffs, the Redskins gave Morris what amounted to an audition for the starting job in 1989. With only 81 carries and 285 yards for the season, the 5-7, 195-pound running back was ready for the challenge. Not only did he carry the ball a record number of times, he gained 152 yards, didn't fumble, and had the Redskins on the brink of victory in a game in which not many experts gave them a chance." Despite the good showing, Morris did not win a starting job in 1989, gaining 336 yards in 124 carries for a 2.7 yard average. Morris' NFL career came to an end in 1990, when he gained only four yards in two carries for the Redskins.
During Morris' NFL career, none of his teams made the playoffs, but the 1989 Redskins under Joe Gibbs were 10-6. In 1988, Gibbs used a triumvirate of running backs with Kelvin Bryant gaining 498 yards, Timmy Smith gaining 470 yards and Morris gaining 437 yards. That season Morris was the leading Redskin kickoff returner with 21 returns for 413 yards. With the New England Patriots in 1990 Morris was one of five return men (Sammy Martin, Marvin Allen, Junior Robinson, and Don Overton) with at least 10 returns for the team.
Life After Football
Morris worked for the University of Michigan Athletic Department as a development manager for a number of years. He was responsible for helping the school's campaign to raise $100 million by 2008. Morris also hosted the 2005 U-M Football Bust put on by the U-M Club of Greater Detroit. As of 2010, he is no longer employed by the athletic deparment. Morris currently co-hosts a popular Sunday morning sports talk show, with John U Bacon, on WTKA in Ann Arbor.