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Cody Kluge Cody Kluge BVM Sports Journalist/Editor
Nazareth Academy four-star Tyler Morris ready to join resurgent Michigan program

Nazareth Academy four-star Tyler Morris ready to join resurgent Michigan program

BOLINGBROOK, Ill. (BVM) – The Michigan Wolverines have had one of their best seasons in recent memory in 2021. Going 12-1, the Wolverines finally beat Ohio State for the first time since 2011 to win the Big Ten East. They followed that up by winning in their first-ever Big Ten Championship game appearance over Iowa, and subsequently earning a College Football Playoff berth as the No. 2-ranked team in the country.

Michigan will be taking on No. 3 Georgia on New Year’s Eve, with the winner of that contest going on to face either Cincinnati or another SEC heavyweight in Alabama. 

While Michigan still has plenty left to play for this season, it is never too early to start thinking about the future. A top-10 class nationally will be joining the program in 2022, with plenty of talent set to add to an already dominant group. Many big names will head to Ann Arbor this offseason, but one to watch for will be Tyler Morris.

Morris joins the Wolverines as a four-star recruit and a tremendous athlete. In 2018, he won the high jump event in his age group at the 2018 AAU Junior Olympic Games. However, in his high school years, the wide receiver’s sole focus has been on football, and it turns out he is just as talented on the gridiron.

Tyler Morris will hope to replicate the success he had while playing at Nazareth Academy during his time at Michigan. (Courtesy: Tyler Morris)

In 2018, Morris was part of a 13-1 IHSA Class 7A state championship team at Nazareth Academy in La Grange Park, Illinois. His team would finish with the same record in his sophomore season, but fall just short in the state championship game in 2019. However, it was that season that allowed Morris to fully blossom as a lethal receiving threat, as he grabbed 17 touchdowns while gaining over 1,200 receiving yards.

“Freshman year, I was on the team, but it’s the first year and you’re starting to get used to it,” Morris said. “Sophomore year, just coming back and being comfortable, knowing the offense was just amazing. We ended up going pretty far. Didn’t finish it completely how we wanted to but enjoyed just being a part of that team.”

Despite the high points of his early prep career, there would also be some low points. In 2020, Morris had to deal with the IHSA pushing the fall football season to the spring, where Nazareth Academy played a condensed schedule. 

In the fourth and final game of his junior season, Morris grabbed an interception, but came down awkwardly on his leg. Morris’ worst fear came true, as the result was a torn ACL that would end his high school career, as he missed all of the 2021 fall season.

“It was hard at first … for maybe a day or two, it was really hard just to understand that I wasn’t going to be playing my senior year,” Morris said. “After a little bit, you just kind of have to realize it is what it is and I can’t control that. I just tried to do my best to focus on getting back because that’s all I could control.”

With the injury, Morris knew he had a long road to recovery ahead. It also changed his thoughts on the recruiting process. Morris had been heavily recruited by many Power 5 heavyweights, and was narrowing his list down to a few schools such as Notre Dame, Penn State, Northwestern and Missouri. 

However, one school Morris long had his eyes set on was Michigan, and the standout receiver decided it was the right time to officially become a Wolverine.

“I would say earlier this year,” Morris said about when he knew Michigan was the right choice for him. “I was really high on them, but it was before I committed so I was just trying to take my time and explore my options. After I got hurt, I just said I’m done with all this … I know where I want to go.

“We had been talking to Michigan throughout freshman year, so I think the relationship has had a lot of time to grow.”

Morris had plenty of options that he could’ve chosen, but it was indeed that bond he formed with those in the program at Michigan, including head coach Jim Harbaugh, that made it feel like the perfect spot.

“Michigan for me … it just felt like a family,” Morris added. “We could talk about stuff other than football. They seem to really care about their players and it just felt like the right place for me.

“The program seems like me, it just seems like something I think I can really fit into and something I’m really proud to be a part of. It’s a place that I really look forward to being at the next four years.”

Whether recruits, current players, coaches, students or alumni, Michigan’s football team has made everyone proud this season. Perhaps the biggest moment of the campaign came in “The Game” against Ohio State, where Michigan rolled to a 42-27 victory over its biggest rival.

“That was the best game I’ve been to, the best atmosphere,” Morris said. “The whole experience of everything that whole weekend was just amazing. It was definitely something that made me look forward more to coming.”

Just weeks after the victory, Morris officially signed his national letter of intent to Michigan, which was another special moment for the four-star.

Tyler Morris hopes to contribute early and often during his time in Ann Arbor. (Courtesy: Tyler Morris)

“It was kind of a weird feeling because I didn’t really expect it to make me feel any type of way,” Morris said. “But after signing, it felt good to really be official and put it down on paper.”

As Morris continues to make his way back from injury, he seems destined to be a key cog in the future of the Michigan offense. Freshman running back Donovan Edwards has already shown flashes in 2021, while five-star quarterback J.J. McCarthy has gotten a little playing time as well. 

McCarthy and Morris were actually teammates during the 2018 and 2019 seasons at Nazareth Academy, forming a special connection between the quarterback and receiver. While McCarthy was not the main factor in Morris going to Michigan, it certainly didn’t hurt that he was there. And soon, the two may have the chance to rekindle their connection.

“It was definitely a good way to just have another person on the inside to ask questions and see what he thinks of the program,” Morris explained. “That was really helpful just going through the process.

“It’ll be like two years since we’ve played together. He’s been trying to get me to Michigan ever since he committed. It’ll be great to be back with him and playing with him again.”

Morris will enroll early at Michigan this spring to get a head start on the ins and outs of Josh Gattis’ offense, and hopes to contribute early and often for what could again be a national contender in the years to come. Whenever he takes the field, Morris will do whatever it takes to win, and hopes to continue the great success Michigan has found in 2021.

“Personally, I just try to be the best I can be,” Morris said. “As long as we’re winning, that’s the most important thing to me … keeping what they have going on right now.”

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