Razorbacks

Tyson Morris Feature

Nate Allen

FAYETTEVILLE – As a walk-on transfer via Helena, Fayetteville and the University of Central Oklahoma, Tyson Morris never had been Razorbacks recruited.

This past winter Morris was doubly Razorbacks recruited.

Coach Sam Pittman and just hired receivers coach Kenny Guiton quickly sought the Razorbacks 3-year letterman senior receiver to return for the encore option the NCAA granted 2020 football seniors because of last season’s covid disruptions.

After leaving early in 2016 without playing at UCO then redshirting in 2017 upon transferring that January to Arkansas under former Razorbacks Coach Bret Bielema, Morris fashioned a nice niche as a reserve receiver and special teamer from 2018-2020. He had played 32 games logging 24 career catches for 352 yards with a touchdown each year. Chad Morris, the second of three head coaches who have coached him, awarded Tyson a scholarship in 2019.

But with his sports management degree in hand, Morris easily could have moved on from football or use the transfer portal seeking increased playing time.

“To be honest, I didn’t know how that would go,” Pittman recalled recently. “I didn’t know. We obviously wanted him to come back.”

Pittman asserted that to Tyson. So did Guiton though he hadn’t even met much less coached Morris.

Justin Stepp, the receivers coach coaching Tyson for the two Chad Morris years and Pittman last year, abruptly left Arkansas as a South Carolina native called home to Columbia, S.C. to coach the Gamecocks receivers for new South Carolina Coach Shane Beamer.

“Whenever Coach Stepp left I was kind of in that bind of not knowing what I was going to do about coming back or going elsewhere,” Morris said. “But once Coach Pittman hired Coach Guiton he (Guiton) gave me a call the day he got hired.”

With his Helena and Fayetteville roots as the son of former Nolan Richardson basketball era center Butch Morris and Synetra Morris, the assistant principal of Fayetteville’s Owl Creek Elementary, and the opportunity to start UA grad school, Tyson knew it would be tough to leave Arkansas regardless.

“I love the State of Arkansas and I love the Hogs,” Morris said.

And once he knew how Arkansas wanted him …

“Coach Pittman and Coach Guiton made it clear and answered all the questions that I needed answered,” Morris said. “And that’s what really got me back.”

Quickly.

“There was really no hesitation,” Pittman said. “I certainly talked to him about our expectations and what he wanted to accomplish out of his super-senior year. His goals and our goals matched up.”

While Morris has been a productive reserve, the big goal is him allowing himself to be even more productive.

“His biggest challenge was his consistency,” Pittman said. “He’s very talented. He’s got a good body (6-1, 205) good length and he can catch.”

But…?

Despite his outwardly sunny disposition, Tyson can get down on himself which downplays his play.

“His deal was being up and down,” Pittman said. “Not 50-50 up and down but his down times were not good. He (this preseason) certainly looks better.”

Morris, Pittman and Guiton discussed all that from the get-go.

“I’ve talked to Tyson plenty about having the right mindset,” Guiton said. “Having the mindset that hey, I’m going to do my job play-in, play-out, and use my ability to the best that I can do. He’s an explosive guy, he can run, he’s a bigger-bodied guy, so I think he’s got tools and abilities that we can use. I just want to keep him in the right mindset and let him keep playing ball every day, play by play.’

That’s what Morris has in mind.

“Not having a good day outside of football I can’t let that affect me,” Morris said. “When I step on the field nothing outside this building should affect me. I have worked on that. They are all for me working on my mental health and point out the things whenever they think I’m going to be down. I appreciate it. My goal is just to be the best me I can be.”

His quarterback, third-year sophomore KJ Jefferson, appreciates him and his experience.

“The way he carries himself,” Jefferson said. “The younger guys look up to him. If they have questions about a certain play or certain route, I can tell T-Mo, ‘Hey, this receiver right here has a problem, can you get him for me?’ He’ll go handle it.”

Though Morris ended spring ball a week early with an injured shoulder requiring surgery, he said this summer of conditioning was his “best ever” and his August start to preseason his “best ever.”

The lone regret was it meant less time than ever revisiting Helena, his first hometown.

“I made two trips but it was like just two or three days,” Morris said. “Usually I come down and stay awhile with my grandmother and see my family and friends but I wasn’t able to be around there much this summer.”

He always has Helena in spirit.

“I appreciate the city of Helena for all the people being behind me,” Morris said.

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