Shane Morris, the hard-throwing left-handed quarterback out of Central Michigan by way of Michigan by way of Warren De La Salle, is working diligently now for a chance to make an NFL team.
Morris is in north Miami, training from early in the morning until evening at Bommarito Performance Systems and working with quarterback coach Ken Mastrole, who has tutored former Michigan and current Lions quarterback Jake Rudock.
After graduating from Michigan and transferring to Central Michigan for one season and to begin working toward a master’s degree, Morris threw for 3,237 yards, 27 touchdowns and had 17 interceptions as the starter.
“I really believe I’m going to get a shot in a camp,” Morris, 23, told The Detroit News in a telephone interview. “My agent is saying teams are interested. We won eight games, something that hasn’t been done in 10 years. Everything so far sounds good. I’m working really hard. Obviously, I have to have a good pro day and show the scouts what I can do and answer all the questions and have good workouts.”
He plans to go through the Central Michigan Pro Day on March 16 and has been invited to Michigan’s Pro Day on March 23, although he hasn’t decided if he will participate.
At Central Michigan, Morris had an opportunity to start for a season. Among his season highlights was leading an outstanding fourth-quarter comeback against rival Western Michigan. The Chippewas scored 21 points in the fourth, including Morris’ game-winning 77-yard touchdown pass to Corey Willis.
“It was everything and more,” Morris said of last season. “Obviously, we could have won a couple more games. I think me coming in there and having a summer to establish myself as a leader on the team, as a quarterback, that was an awesome experience for me to have that challenge, going through that summer and proving to the guys I was doing the work and willing to become a leader.
“I loved it. I enjoyed all of it. I enjoyed the highs and lows. It was an awesome group of guys. Guys who will be friends for the rest of my life. I had a good year. I showed I’m a good quarterback.”
Mastrole laughs at the irony that he trained Rudock, a graduate transfer from Iowa who won the starting job at Michigan in 2015. Rudock beat Morris for the job.
“I watched old tapes of him at Michigan and watched a lot of film from Central Michigan,” Mastrole said. “With Shane, I think it was more a mental thing for him. He’s always been blessed with a strong arm.
“He learned the game very well, but he needed that on-the-field mentorship. All the quarterbacks rave about Jake and how he approaches the game mentally. (Morris) took those little pieces from Michigan and applied them to Central Michigan. He had a very nice year. We’re working to get him a chance to drop into a camp and show what he has.”
Morris worked under four offensive coordinators during his college career and said because of that he can learn any offense quickly.
“He’s hard-nosed and embodies that Detroit tough. Gritty,” Mastrole said. “That’s how he approaches the game in terms of how he works. He’s very impressive on the X’s and O’s side. He showed it at Central Michigan, he doesn’t have to force the big plays. The NFL is about anticipating and accuracy. He knows the game, he knows where protections lie, he knows how to get guys in position. It’s really him and that consistency level. That’s the big thing.
“I feel like he fits the mentality. There’s upside to him still, but he fits a team locker room. If he’s a third guy, he’s a good mix in the room. He’s a good guy to be around. He makes a (quarterback) room a better kind of place. I think he’ll get the job done. He’s grown up a lot too, and knows how to approach the game like a professional.”
Morris is prepared for the questions he will face from NFL teams.
“I know it’s going to be, ‘What happened at Michigan?’” Morris said. “As long as I’m honest, and I’ve always been honest talking about it, that’s what I’m going to tell them, what happened there, why I went to Central and the success we had as a team there.
“Honestly, I think as an NFL scout or a GM you’re looking at me, you’re getting a talented guy who knows football, knows X’s and O’s and played for good coordinators and good coaches. I’ve soaked all that up. Yeah, I only really played one year, but I’ve been in the program, at a big-time program, and Central, for five years. I’ve been around. I’ve had a lot of reps. I went out and started last season.”
He has turned into a positive the fact he has played under four coordinators.
“I learned so much and that’s going to help a ton at the next level,” Morris said. “That’s only going to help me. There aren’t many football plays I haven’t run.”
Morris said Jim Harbaugh stayed in touch throughout the past football season and would text Morris after his CMU games.
“He would say congratulations on a big win or on doing this or that,” Morris said. “Coach Harbaugh and I had a very, very good relationship, and that’s going to go on for a very long time.”
So much has happened to Morris since he was the hotshot recruit out of De La Salle, but his ambitions regarding football have never wavered. He has said he gained a maturity in his later years at Michigan, particularly after losing the competition for the starting job to Rudock.
His decision to transfer to Central Michigan was a wise one, he said. It gave him starting experience and a film resume for NFL scouts as he continues to prepare for a shot at the next level.
“I’m very confident in my ability to play football and confident in my ability to learn offenses and play at the next level,” Morris said. “I don’t have any second guesses. I went out and proved I could play this year after sitting. You can’t get down. You have to control you. I think I proved I can go through that adversity and come out on top.”