By Alma Solis
LOGOS SPORTS EDITOR
Since Eric Morris was announced Dec. 30 as the University of the Incarnate Word’s third head football coach, the 32-year-old’s been busy settling in, hiring assistants and recruiting players.
Wednesday, Feb. 7, Morris announced his first recruiting class as a head coach for National Football Signing Day in a news conference in the Student Engagement Center Ballroom.
His 20 incoming student-athletes include 19 out of high school and one transfer. Of the 20, only one is a non-Texas native.
Morris replaces Larry Kennan, who was head coach at UIW the past six seasons – the 2017 campaign being the worst at 1-10 in the first year of the program’s being fully a Division I competitor. Kennan did have two 6-5 winning seasons during his tenure.
Before Morris came to UIW, he spent the past five seasons as offensive coordinator for Texas Tech’s Red Raiders in Lubbock. He graduated from Texas Tech in 2008, earning a bachelor’s degree in communication studies while playing four seasons as a wide receiver.
After graduation, Morris played in the Canadian Football League for the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the 2009 season before beginning his coaching career.
Morris spent two years at the University of Houston under then-Head Coach Kevin Sumlin. Morris was a graduate assistant in 2010 and the offensive quality control assistant in 2011. Prior to his tenure as offensive coordinator at Texas Tech, Morris was the inside receivers coach at Washington State under Mike Leach, formerly a Texas Tech head coach.
Leach said he believes Morris will produce a team the community will be proud of.
“Eric Morris is a great coach and a great person,” Leach said. “He will lead and develop a team that everyone at UIW can be proud of.”
As offensive coordinator for Texas Tech, Morris transformed the Red Raiders’ offense to one of the best in the country and helped the team to three bowl appearances. In his first year as the lone offensive coordinator in 2014, the Raiders ranked 10th nationally in total offense. In 2015, the Raiders averaged more than 30 points a game and set the school record with 45.1 points a game. They finished the season ranked second in the nation in total offense, scoring offense and passing offense. In 2016, the Raiders led the nation with an average of 566.6 yards of total offense, including 463 passing yards a game. Last fall, the Raiders ranked 10th nationally in passing offense and 16th in total offense in his last year at Texas Tech, with 474.6 passing yards a game. Although Morris has deep roots in Lubbock, he said he is excited to be here.
“(San Antonio is) a football-rich city with a lot of untapped resources,” Morris said. “There’s a bunch of new blood at UIW and the future is very bright.”
Morris said he is excited about the opportunity hereto succeed and UIW’s strong leadership.
“They have an unbelievable vision of where they want this football program to go,” Morris said.
Three guidelines Morris said he’s followed his whole life are: “Faith, family, and football.”
His coaching philosophy revolves around relationships built among coaches and players, he said.
“My first line of duty will be to establish strong relationships with our coaches and our players,” Morris said.
Morris said he plans to spread enthusiasm and positivity to the program, adding he needs the support of the community and Cardinals fans to make the football vision a reality. “Energy is contagious and I promise I will bring that to our program each and every day,” Morris said.
Morris said he will hold his players to high standards, on and off the field.
“We’re going to try to create a culture where we can not only improve on the football field but improve in life,” Morris said. Morris already has big plans for his new team which kicks off its season at home Sept. 15.
“They will be fundamentally sound, they will be physical, and most of all they will never quit,” he said. “Building a championship team is not easy. They will have to learn to do the little things right and eventually I think you will see a product that everyone in this room (the SEC Ballroom) can be very proud of.”