Former Arizona Wildcats, Desert Swarm standout humbled over son’s decision to attend UA


Samuel Morrison is the 10th Class of 2015 recruit to commit to Arizona

Samuel Morrison is the 10th Class of 2015 recruit to commit to Arizona

One way or another, Samuel Morrison was destined to play football in front of family at Arizona Stadium starting in 2015.

Morrison, son of former Arizona cornerback and Desert Swarm member Darryl Morrison, is coming home to Tucson from his residence in Leesburg, Va. Tucson will be his sanctuary although he has visited the city only a couple of times in his life and has yet to watch a football game at Arizona Stadium.

The Washington (D.C.) Gonzaga High School cornerback, a three-star prospect as rated by, committed to the Arizona football program Tuesday afternoon.

Arizona is the original home of his parents. The younger Morrison also has at least five “uncles” in the area who are not of his blood but are forever bonded to his dad because of their Desert Swarm days. They include former Arizona offensive lineman Eric Johnson, linebacker Sean Harris, defensive lineman Ty Parten and defensive backs Brandon Sanders and Heath Bray. Most of his teammates and coaches while at Arizona will support his son.

“I told Samuel, ‘Listen, you’ll have 40-plus uncles cheering you on,” Darryl Morrison told me in a phone interview Tuesday night. “He really looks forward to them cheering him on. He values and appreciates their support.

“Sean in particular helped Samuel during the decision-making process. All of them are a good source of motivation and encouragement.”

Samuel Morrison with his father, former Arizona Wildcats player and Desert Swarm member Darryl Morrison (Morrison family photo)

Samuel Morrison with his father, former Arizona Wildcats player and Desert Swarm member Darryl Morrison (Morrison family photo)

Arizona set its sights on Samuel Morrison and its coaching staff got who they wanted

Arizona set its sights on Samuel Morrison and its coaching staff got who they wanted

The Morrison family will pack their belongings and move to Phoenix when Samuel relocates to Tucson before the 2015-16 school year. Darryl Morrison prepped at Camelback High School in Phoenix and attended Phoenix College before Dick Tomey took a chance on him in 1991. Samuel’s mom, Jo Ann Morrison, also attended Camelback and Arizona.

“Our daughter (Faith Morrison) is a freshman gymnast at Washington,” Darryl told me. “Between my wife and I, we had to split time watching her compete. We saw her compete in Tucson (against Arizona). One of the things we strongly considered when Samuel was making his decision was moving back to the West coast, in particular the Phoenix area.

“Samuel likes the idea of us moving there to provide support. He knows that one of his biggest supporters at Arizona will be his 10-year-old brother Benjamin.”

The elder Morrison received congratulations on Samuel’s announcement Tuesday from his former teammates and Tomey, with whom he maintains a close relationship.

“I can’t say enough about Coach Tomey and members of the staff who coached me at Arizona, including Duane Akina and Johnny Lynn,” Darryl Morrison said. “Coach Tomey and I talked a couple of weeks ago when he learned of my son being recruited by Arizona. He e-mailed me today that he will be in the D.C. area at the end of the month and wants to see me.

“I’m biased but I think Coach Tomey and his staff were the best in the country.”

Rich Rodriguez and his staff will try to make the same kind of impact on Samuel.

Rodriguez’s approach with his players is similar to Tomey’s style, according to the elder Morrison. The Morrisons made an unofficial visit to the Arizona campus last Thursday. Rodriguez and his staff offered Samuel a scholarship during that visit.

“Coach Rich Rod said something when we were there that really stuck with me,” the elder Morrison said. “He said he will give his best effort to the players and asked the best from them.

“We saw the facilities and all the small things that are important from him to build a winning program. He said the players can expect a lot from him, but they have to be willing to give a lot. That’s the kind of coach I would want to play for. You want somebody who will protect your back.”

The elder Morrison has mostly served as the assistant pastor at Grace Covenant Church at Washington, D.C., since his retirement in 1996 from the NFL while with the Washington Redskins. He says that with a “hope and a prayer” his family will start a ministry “from the ground up” in the Phoenix area when they move there next year.

Relive Arizona’s upset of No. 1 Washington in 1992 as the Desert Swarm defense, including Darryl Morrison at cornerback, shut down the Huskies.

He knows all about succeeding with a hope and a prayer from when he attended high school. He did not play football at Camelback until he was a senior.

“Even then, I didn’t go out until my friends bet me $20 that I wouldn’t play football,” the elder Morrison said with a laugh. “I wanted to be the next 5’11” point guard in the NBA. When I realized the market was not strong for basketball players that size, I devoted myself to football.

“I went to JC for a year and a half and that’s when I really learned how to play football. I received offers from ASU, U of A, Memphis State and some other schools. My recruitment was totally different than my son’s recruitment. I was not as highly touted or as gifted as an athlete.”

Darryl Morrison, now 43, was 5’11” and 196 pounds during his playing days. His son is 5’11 and 170. The elder Morrison said the similarities between him and Samuel end after their size, cornerback position and the fact his son will wear No. 27 like he did for the Wildcats.

Samuel Morrison (right) will wear No. 27 at Arizona like his father, Darryl Morrison (Morrison family photos)

Samuel Morrison (right) will wear No. 27 at Arizona like his father, Darryl Morrison (Morrison family photos)

“I consider him an upgrade,” the elder Morrison said. “I was a good young man. He is a better man. He is faster than me. He can really run. He is also much more physical than I was, too.

“He’s been a very physical player since his freshman season, knocking helmets off. He is a tough, tough kid. He has shown the ability to be a leader. He’s a very smart kid. People say he has big shoes to fill. I thoroughly expect him to be better because he is better than I was at the same stage.”

Samuel Morrison narrowed his choices to Arizona, Duke, Rutgers and Boston College. A total of 14 schools offered a scholarship, including Washington State of the Pac-12.

Darryl Morrison, who was not recruited out of high school, led Arizona with three interceptions in 1991 after transferring from Phoenix College. He was an All-Pac-10 honorable mention selection as a senior in 1992. He was selected in the sixth round of the 1993 NFL Draft by Washington.

Samuel was not born until after his dad’s NFL career ended in 1996. His vision of his dad playing with the Desert Swarm in 1992 is through VHS tapes and a highlight reel put together by Akina.

The family has visited the Arizona campus only twice with Samuel, when he was in the eighth grade and last week for the unofficial visit.

“Samuel never got to see a game there but he stayed up late with me on many nights out here on the East coast cheering on the Wildcats when they played ASU and other teams,” Darryl said. “Ever since he started playing Pee Wee football I talked to him about my experiences of playing cornerback at the University of Arizona.”

The fatherly advice has paid off in Samuel’s development, but Darryl believes his son deserves the praise.

“I thank God. I really do,” Darryl said. “To see a child work very hard, grow as a young person and achieve a goal he set out to achieve … that’s a major blessing. I’m truly humbled and very excited for his future at Arizona.” publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He also writes articles for Bleacher Report and Lindy’s College Sports.

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