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Arizona football: Sammy Morrison blazing his own trail as a true freshman

Don't just make him the son of a former Desert Swarm member

Jason Bartel

When people talk Sammy Morrison, it doesn't take long before his father, Daryl Morrison, comes up in the conversation.

Daryl played at Arizona in the early 1990s, and was a crucial member of those Desert Swarm defenses. But the new Morrison shouldn't just be labeled as Daryl's son.

"Obviously he played for the Desert Swarm defense, one of the greatest defenses ever," Sammy said of his dad. "He just told me about his experience about how he came from a junior college and just laid his claim on this program and tried to do the best that he could."

But it's not like his dad was pressing Arizona on him throughout the recruiting process.

"He tried to stay out of it," Sammy explained. "He didn't want to be biased towards his school because there were a couple of other great schools I could have gone to, but at the end of the day, it's awesome that I get to walk in his footsteps and do what he did."

"My mom went here too," Morrison continued. "So it's cool that I'll get to walk the same hallways she walked through. But my dad, he tries to just let me live my own journey instead of his journey."

There's a little bit of living the same journey though, as Sammy will wear his dad's No. 27 this year, and it was definitely on purpose after Jamar Allah changed from 27 to No. 7 this year.

But Sammy is ahead of his dad in this regard. As a true freshman, he has been listed as the opening game starter at left corner.

"One reason why he's going to play is he's pretty mature and composed for a young guy," Rich Rodriguez said of Sammy. "It's just a matter of going out there and getting the jitters out early. The first play, he might line up 30 yards deep or something. I did that my first play in college, so we'll see how he does."

Morrison definitely comes off as an extremely mature guy for his age when talking to him. And he also seems very humble and down to earth, which could help him even more this year.

"It all just started with my coaches here at Arizona believing in me," Morrison said of his impressive camp. "Obviously they recruited me because they believed I would fit well in the program, and from day one, they just believed in my ability. So I just wanted to prove to them that I could really play with these guys."

"Honestly, one of the biggest things that kind of put me in the position I am today I basically just took their instruction. Whatever they told me to do, whatever they wanted me to do, I just tried to do it to the best of my ability, and that kinda stood out to them."

Morrison spent most of camp covering Trey Griffey, which allowed him to work on the physical nature of the position.

"He's physical," Allah said of Morrison. "He has very little errors, but you can't coach effort and he's physical going for the ball. If you're not scared to put your nose on the ball, that's another guy you have to account for on the ball."

Even though Morrison is probably going to take playing time away from Jarvis McCall, the redshirt sophomore has been very supportive of the true freshman.

"He's kind of struggling with injury, but when he's healthy, you know he's great," Morrison said of McCall. "Once he found out I was moving up the depth chart and saw that I was doing well, he would come up to me after practice and say 'Sammy, you look really good, you look really good. Keep working every single day' and he was just always encouraging me. Usually, as an older guy and seeing a younger guy coming up into his own, you get a little intimidated, but he took me under his wing, and that's been helping me a lot."

"Just knowing that I have that support system from him, and some of the other DBs, it's really great."

Morrison's listed as the starter, but there will certainly be plenty of guys getting run at corner, especially early in the year. It's just very encouraging to see a true freshman come in and make an impact right away like Morrison has done at Arizona's fall practices.