Analysis: Morris' pledge should be win-win for Arkansas

By: Dudley E. Dawson
Published: Friday, June 14, 2019
Chandler Morris (foreground) and his father, Arkansas football coach Chad Morris, watch during the Class 4A state championship game between Arkadelphia and Warren on Saturday, Dec. 9, 2017, in Little Rock.
Photo by Jimmy Jones
Chandler Morris (foreground) and his father, Arkansas football coach Chad Morris, watch during the Class 4A state championship game between Arkadelphia and Warren on Saturday, Dec. 9, 2017, in Little Rock.

— Just Thursday, ESPN.com posed the question inside a story on its college football page whether it would be Clemson or Arkansas for four-star Dallas (Texas) Highland Park quarterback Chandler Morris (5-10, 172).

It was all very reasoned out, seeing as how Clemson is the defending national champion and one of the nation’s best football programs, and Arkansas is led by Chad Morris, who doubles as Chandler’s father.

How could Morris turn down the chance to be the next superstar quarterback for Dabo Swinney’s Tigers and possibly take over for current quarterback phenom Trevor Lawrence?

The Morris' have known the Swinneys for a long time, since the older Morris was Dabo's offensive coordinator at Clemson for four years.

Chandler also held offers from Oklahoma, Auburn, Texas A&M and others.

Having been made aware of Morris decision ahead of time, I could have answered the question for them, but in an unusual move on my part, I kept my mouth shut.

Morris publicly committed to Arkansas on Friday right before participating in the Razorbacks Elite Passing Camp. Landing the 24/7 composite four-star is a big get - literally and figuratively - for the Razorbacks.

It will resonate locally and nationally for the program.

Morris earned an invitation to the Nike Elite 11 quarterback camp at The Star in Frisco on June 28-30 along with Morrilton star and North Carolina commit Jacolby Criswell.

He is coming off a sensational junior season in which he led Highland Park to the Texas Class 5A Division I State Championship while completing 262 of 410 pass attempts (63.9 percent) for 4,010 yards, 46 touchdowns and 6 interceptions.

Morris also ran 133 times for 647 yards and 20 more scores last season.

The younger Morris believes in the older Morris, not only as his dad, but as a coach that is capable of turning things around in Fayetteville.

The fact coach Morris and offensive coordinator Joe Craddock have landed quarterbacks Ben Hicks, Nick Starkel, Connor Noland, John Stephen Jones, K.J. Jefferson and now Morris, who will enter as SMU graduate transfer Hicks exits, is impressive.

In fact, I would say the quarterback room will be filled with as much depth in the next two years as it has in recent memory. They're likely to lose one or two of those guys along the way, but the path forward looks to be one on solid ground.

The younger Morris is not imposing when you look at him, but has the “It” factor most successful quarterbacks possess. He makes the right read and right pass at the right time to the right guy.

Taking over for Jones at Highland Park, Morris stepped into his shoes seamlessly and kept the Highland Park train rolling.

That’s not to say I think he is going to be handed the ball from the start at Arkansas as Starkel will be back next season for his final year while Jefferson, who may be the most talented of all, will have a year’s worth of college experience under his belt.

There also have to be some downsides to playing for your father. An incomplete pass, interception or lack of productivity will be viewed as a double failure for both.

I never played football for my late dad, but I worked for him on our farm and learned while in the field that I was going to be treated just as any other employee.

That changed at home, but in the field and on a tractor from age 12, I was expected to do my part, keep my mouth shut and put in a good day’s work or be docked pay just like anyone else.

I can never thank my dad enough for developing my work ethic and independence, and also instilling in me the philosophy that it is far more important for me to take care of how I do my own job and not worry about how someone else does his.

I also have no doubt that Chandler Morris’ success at Arkansas and Jacolby Criswell’s at North Carolina will be compared throughout their careers.

Arkansas' coaches made their choice between the two and, luckily for them, the younger Morris is coming on board.

And now the story really begins.

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