|Geoff Burke/US Presswire|
|Washington Redskins running back Alfred Morris leads all rookies, and is fifth in the league, with 538 yards rushing.|
ASHBURN, Va. -- His prized possession is a 1991 Mazda 626, he's the middle child in a family of seven sons, he played college ball at Florida Atlantic University, and he's the Washington Redskins rookie you don't hear about every day.
Unless you're a fantasy football freak -- we use the word kindly -- maybe you don't know a lot about Morris. Not yet, anyway. But maybe you should. Maybe we all should. As his fellow Redskins will tell you, the kid makes a great first impression.
"Alfred (came) out of nowhere and he runs like every snap is his last," nose tackle Barry Cofield said. "That's what I love about him."
Back in August, when he was a sixth-round draft pick fighting for carries, Morris posted this on his @Trey_Deuces Twitter account:
When life knocks me down and repeatedly kicks me I continue to thank God and ask myself "How bad do you want it!?"â Alfred Morris (@Trey_Deuces) August 25, 2012
Perhaps Morris didn't realize it then, but his teammates were already getting the idea. He hit the hole hard on every carry, showed good feet, made great cuts. In the first preseason game, the 5-foot-10, 218-pound Morris ran through tackles. On one run. Then another. And another.
Clearly, the kid wanted it bad.
In the second preseason game, on the first play, Morris got the attention of his entire sidelines by putting his head down, powering through Chicago Bears linebacker Lance Briggs and rumbling for 21 yards.
That was bad. In a very good way.
"Man," Moss thought, "that might be our starter."
Alfred Morris -- who took the only college football scholarship he was offered, whose team went 1-11 last season (including 0-8 in the Sun Belt Conference), who was selected 173rd in April draft -- has, indeed, become the other rookie starter for the Redskins in their superhuman offensive backfield.
"He's definitely been a surprise story -- not only for the media, but for the players as well," quarterback Robert Griffin III said. "It's been great to watch him go out there and work. He's truly something special."
"With the way he ran," Moss said, "he didn't give anyone else a chance."
Funny thing, that's all Morris has ever wanted: A chance.
From his parents, Ronald and Yvonne, Morris learned the value of work, commitment and sacrifice.
"My parents," he said, "are my superheroes."
Ronald is a chef at Olive Garden who, Alfred said, has turned down opportunities in management because he's always wanted to have a flexible schedule in order to attend his sons' school activities and sporting events.
"My dad's a lead-by-example person," Alfred said. "He taught us things like how to treat a woman just by showing us; he never stopped opening car doors for my mom."
Yvonne somehow found time to earn her bachelor's and master's degrees while running a crowded household. She's a special education teacher at Pine Forest High School in Pensacola, Fla.
"My mom's the one I go to when I need to talk, for advice," Morris said. "And when I need a pep talk."
Through six weeks, Morris leads all rookies and is fifth in the NFL with 538 yards rushing. He and RG3 have 917 rushing yards between them, a total that eclipses that of 29 teams. Griffin (six) and Morris (five) are the first rookie teammates in NFL history to score at least five rushing touchdowns apiece in the first six games of a season.
If the Redskins knew what they were getting in Griffin, the No. 2 overall pick, they admit to hitting the draft jackpot with Morris.
"He has a great attitude about himself, the way he goes about his business," said linebacker London Fletcher, a 15-year veteran who lockers between Griffin and Morris. "He doesn't get caught up in a whole lot of (stuff) that a lot of rookies get caught up in. He just wants to work."
Coach Mike Shanahan appreciates that Morris "handles himself like a veteran back."
"He wants the ball," Shanahan added. "He has a lot of talent (and is a) very humble guy that I think everybody is rooting for."
Morris describes himself as an old soul. He likes talking to elderly people, he said, "to soak up knowledge." He avoids the Internet and doesn't read blogs; he only knows he's a top-five rusher because people tell him.
"The only numbers I care about are wins," he said.
He admits to initially fearing that Griffin might be "arrogant," but quickly realized the opposite to be true. Morris calls his quarterback "a great guy to be around" and teases him in the weight room by saying, "You're a quarterback, you're not supposed to be lifting that much weight."
"It's an honor," Morris said, "to be in the backfield with such a dynamic player."
|Alfred Morris' 1991 Mazda sticks out among the Escalades and BMWs in the Redskins' parking lot. (Andrew Walker/Redskins.com/)|
While fantasy football owners seek out Morris to offer thanks and encouragement -- "I'm starting you this week!" -- he deflects their enthusiasm with caution: "Fantasy football is a gamble," he will say, "and I'm not a gambler."
No, Morris seems too grounded to gamble. Asked his personal NFL goal, he chooses the word "longevity."
Which figures. If there's one thing Morris appreciates, it's the ability to endure. His car tells that story. With 125,000 miles and counting, his silver Mazda sits proudly among luxury models and SUVs in the players' parking lot at Redskins Park.
"That's my baby," he said of the vehicle, which he nicknamed "Bentley."
He has no plans to retire the car anytime soon. Or ever. But, if you're wondering, Alfred Morris does have a dream car in mind. He has for years.
What is it? He smiled big.
"A '64 Chevy Impala."
Follow Kimberly Jones on Twitter @KimJonesSports.