Oklahoma walk-on WR Morris earns scholarship after big game

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — Oklahoma walk-on receiver Lee Morris finally is on scholarship.

Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley’s Twitter account posted a video showing the announcement in front of the team on Monday night, and Morris posted a response a few minutes later.

“It’s been a dream of mine since I was kid. And now I can proudly say, that I’m playing football at The University of Oklahoma on FULL Scholarship!” Morris said in his post.

Morris, a redshirt junior, was mostly a special teams player as a freshman in 2016. As a sophomore last season, he played in every game with two catches: an 18-yard touchdown at Ohio State and the other a 43-yard score against UTEP.

Morris was at it again in the season opener against Florida Atlantic. In the first quarter, he blocked a punt that Curtis Bolton recovered in the end zone for a touchdown and grabbed a 65-yard touchdown reception from Kyler Murray. That means he now has three career receptions for 126 yards — and three touchdowns.

“He’s worked his tail off the whole time since he’s been here,” Riley said. “He’s very consistent day in and day out, and when his opportunities have come, whether it’s been in some mop-up time against UTEP last year, or one of the biggest stages in college football in the Ohio State game. Obviously, some critical plays for us the other day. The moment’s never been too big for him.”

Riley was asked about Morris’ scholarship situation after the win over Florida Atlantic, and again on Monday during his weekly media conference.

“I think one of those things that’s probably a matter of time,” Riley said, hours before the announcements. “I’d love to have had him on even before this, but as much as you want to make sure it’s right for the kid, which that’s a huge part of it, but it’s also got to line up and be right for the program. So once we get those in line, then that’s when we’ll make the decision.”

Morris’ father, Lee Morris Jr., lettered for Oklahoma in 1985 and 1986. The younger Morris said after Saturday’s game that his father is his greatest inspiration, and earning a scholarship would be meaningful.

“Just to follow in the footsteps and earn one as well — it would mean the world to me, my family — just help us out.” he said.

The fact that Morris wasn’t already a scholarship player might be surprising at first glance. He looks the part at 6-foot-2 and 212 pounds, and Riley called him “a 4.4 40 guy.” But Morris didn’t emerge as a star until his senior year at Allen (Texas) High School, when he caught 11 touchdown passes.

“We were shocked, honestly, coming out of Allen, one of the most highly recruited schools in the country, with all the other players they had here,” Riley said. “He was a little bit of a late bloomer in high school. There’s a lot of guys like that, with recruiting happening so early, that do fall through the cracks. He was one of those guys.”

Oklahoma hosts UCLA (0-1) on Saturday.