He looks a little like Alfred Morris, and he sounds a lot like him.
But that’s not why Shawn Morris was invited to rookie camp in Ashburn. He was asked to attend because the Redskins' coaching staff wanted to see if Shawn runs like his famous older brother, too.
The speedy, 5 foot 8, 197-pound running back ended his college career as Division III Birmingham-Southern’s all-time leading rusher with 3,722 yards. As a senior last season, he gained 1,026 yards and scored nine touchdowns.
The Redskins began monitoring the younger Morris late last year, then about a week ago extended a formal invitation to this weekend's camp.
“He paved the way for me, being kind of unknown and showing out in the NFL.” Shawn said of Alfred. “I was All-American in Division III and showed flashes of talent, even though I wasn't playing the caliber of talent that’s in D-I. But I can make some plays. The coaches saw that, and said, ‘Hey, he’s Alfred’s little brother, let’s give him a shot.’ And I appreciate the opportunity.”
Said Coach Mike Shanahan: “What we do is have our scouts look at these players, and if they think somebody has an attribute where it gives them a chance to make our football team, then we bring them in. …Same personality [as Alfred], for sure. I’m not sure they both run the same. But what a quality young man.”
Indeed, Shawn Morris is a long shot to earn a spot in Washington, but he thought he performed solidly in the five practice sessions and vowed to continue to work toward earning an NFL job.
He also shared some entertaining stories about his older brother, with whom he maintains a close relationship. Shawn and Alfred are two of seven Morris brothers.
“Growing up, it was Batman and Robin.” Shawn Morris said. “I was Robin, he was Batman.”
The two speak almost daily and, during the football season, they serve as each other’s biggest supporters – and critics.
“I’ll bash him, just like he’ll bash me,” Shawn said. “He came and watched my last game of the season. I had a pretty good game. I had like three touchdowns, 250 yards and every little thing, he bashed me about. He was, ‘Hey, you missed this block, you missed this cut, you could have done this better.”
He added with a laugh: “It’s the same thing with him. I know one play that Coach Bobby [Turner] has been showing, he missed a block and RG3 got sacked. I will not let him live that down.”
After Sunday's practice ended, Shawn boarded the tour bus that shuttles players to and from the team hotel. What’s lies ahead is unknown. But, he said, even if he didn’t do enough to earn a return trip to Redskins Park, he views his experience here the past three days as the first stop on a potentially long journey.
“There were eight running backs out here [but] the little opportunity I did get, I made the most of it,” he said. “I caught every ball. I picked up on the plays pretty fast. Made a little, mental mistakes even though it’s a bunch plays thrown at us. I think I did well.”
“If I don’t make it with the Redskins,” he added, “I’ll keep working. And I know I can make it eventually.”