BEAVERTON, Ore . — Shane Morris committed to Michigan 14 months ago, before most of the Wolverines’ 2012 class.
He helped lure many of the players, in fact, who will start their careers in Ann Arbor as freshmen next month.
The quarterback out of Warren (Mich.) De La Salle Collegiate is a celebrity with a fast-growing audience — more than 13,000 followers on Twitter. Morris touts his love for “Glee” and of Carly Rae Jepsen’s smash-hit, teenybopper single “Call Me Maybe.”
In the world of football recruiting pop culture, Morris waves the banner. And happily.
“He loves to enjoy people,” said Shane’s father, Bruce Morris. “He loves people. He loves being around people. He’s a guy who walks in a room with 30 people he doesn’t know, and he leaves knowing everyone.”
He’s the flagship recruit in Michigan’s No. 1-rated class of 2013 pledges, seven of whom are suited up this week at The Opening.
That much, you already knew.
What you don’t know about Shane Morris, though, might make you think twice about judging him.
The oldest of Bruce and Jennifer Morris’ three children, Shane wears his heart on his sleeve. Well, actually, on his wrists. Morris never removes the eight bracelets that capture the essence of him.
Atop the stack on his left wrist, a white band with black letters reads: “Love Is The Movement.” The message represents a campaign to deter teen suicide. Morris got it a couple years ago, he said.
Ten days ago, one of Morris’ best friends from Hazel Park Junior High committed suicide. They used to play basketball together. His friend was 19 years old. Morris was stunned. He heard about it from a mutual friend. Morris said he nearly dropped the phone.
Before he left home for Oregon, the quarterback attended a bowling fundraiser this week to help the young man’s family.
“It’s rough,” Morris said. “I don’t know what to say.”
But Morris knows what to do. Almost always, it seems, he knows what to do. He’ll support the cause. He’s getting another bracelet, this one to commemorate his friend.
Morris will push forward with the relentlessly positive approach that has won over so many, including most of the Wolverines’ current class of recruits.
“He’s so energetic, so passionate about Michigan,” said fellow pledge Kyle Bosch, an offensive guard from Wheaton, Ill. “I think he’s going to be Tom Brady reincarnated.”
So much for keeping expectations in check.
Morris said he knows it comes with the territory. By the time he enrolls at Michigan, he’ll have been part of the program, unofficially, for more than two years.
“People expect me to do great things,” Morris said. “I expect to do great things, to win championships. That comes with the position, playing quarterback at a place like Michigan. There are going to be 115,000 to 120,000 in the stadium, every weekend.
“There’s an expectation that comes with that.”
So far, he looks up to the challenge. The 6-foot-3 Morris sits 32nd in the ESPN 150 and fourth among pocket-passer quarterbacks. He threw for 19 touchdowns and more than 1,600 yards as a junior.
He also punts for De La Salle. On Friday during the Nike Football Training Camp portion of The Opening, Morris caught post routes from the likes of Tyrone Swoopes and Christian Hackenberg. By the end of the drill, Morris jokingly professed his desire to switch positions.
You might say he can do it all.
“That’s an understatement,” Bosch said. “But it’s cool. Everybody knows who he is. No one really knows the lowly offensive lineman, so it’s good for me to hang out with him.”
When the Michigan offer arrived from newly hired coach Brady Hoke in the spring of 2011, Morris waited about two months. Really, there was little doubt.
“You could see there was something special about [Hoke],” Morris said. “I did things a little differently, committing so early, but I knew it was the right fit. It’s Michigan. It’s home.”
His collection of bracelets includes one that pays tribute to the Wolverines, another that displays the slogan for his high school team this fall: “Buckle Up.”
Beneath the suicide-prevention message on his left arm, Morris wears a bracelet that honors “Jesse’s Journey,” the story of a Michigan boy who is battling leukemia.
One bracelet simply reads: “Love.”
Most high school kids would shy away from making such a statement. Then again, most high school kids aren’t Shane Morris.
“He wears his heart on his sleeve,” Bruce Morris said. “Shane’s emotional. You’ll see it this weekend if you watch him play.
“It’s probably one of his best values. And it can be one of his worst, too.”
Click here to read more.