Washington State inside receivers coach Eric Morris is heading back to Texas Tech, this time as an assistant coach. In a move that should surprise nobody, Morris was one of the first calls Kliff Kingsbury made when assembling his staff. Morris, who was apparently in Dallas recruiting at the time, hopped a plane and was in Lubbock for Kingsbury's introductory press conference on Friday.
The move was a no-brainer for both Morris and Kingsbury. The two kind of came up together at Houston, where Kingsbury moved from a GA position, to a co-offensive coordinator, to the sole play-caller before sticking with Sumlin at Texas A&M. At the same time, Morris took a job at Houston as a GA, working there for two years before accepting an assistant coaching position on Mike Leach's staff at Washington State. Kingsbury and Morris have known each other for quite some time, and roomed together at Houston. Kingsbury's was in Morris' wedding, as well. They're close friends, making this an obvious choice for Kingsbury.
When Morris was hired at Washington State, I reached out to several people who knew him to get an idea of who he was. Multiple people told me he was going to be a star; that he was a quick-riser in the coaching world. He was short on experience, only having worked as a GA, but there was something there. And we saw that something at Washington State this year.
Morris immediately made an impact in recruiting, going into Texas and working his connections. That may be where the Cougars miss him the most. Morris was a tenacious recruiter who did some great things for Leach and Washington State in the short time he was here. He had those Texas connections, and used them well in the year he was in Pullman.
But it wasn't just recruiting. Early on, it became clear that Leach was taking Morris under his wing. Morris was the inside receivers coach, but also became sort of an offensive coordinator. When the offense would do skelly or team drills, Morris would be right there with Leach, barking out instruction or critiquing plays. He was Leach's eyes in the booth, as well. Leach and Morris had an open dialogue during the game, and Morris would be relaying what he saw down to Leach. He was being groomed, and it was obvious why: there was talent there.
As far as the short-term effect, Washington State may take some kind of hit in recruiting. DeMarcus Ayers reportedly decommitted last night, and Morris was the primary recruiter with him (though Ayers saw his interest pick way up this season). Morris was also Tyler Bruggman's point of contact, I believe, and the Arizona quarterback expressed some sadness about the move. Texas and quarterbacks were Morris' focus, so the recruiting aspect is something to keep an eye on.
I'll miss having Morris around. He was fun to watch, full of energy, and a hell of a coach in his short time here. Every day he'd be out on the field chasing receivers around, running full speed while playing defensive back in warmup drills. His high-pitched voice was immediately recognizable, even if you couldn't see his 5-foot-2 (kidding) frame amidst the crowd. He's a great guy and will be a superb coach at Tech.
Morris' rise has been pretty amazing, as well. Two years ago, he was making next to nothing as a GA at Houston. This past year, he earned $150,000 as an inside receivers coach at Washington State. Now he's heading to Tech to work under the hottest up-and-coming name in coaching, and presumably will receive a bump in both salary and title. It wouldn't be surprising if Morris worked in some kind of an offensive coordinator role under Kingsbury -- this will still be Kingsbury's offense and will be the same ol' Air Raid we all know and love.
Congrats to Morris. We'll update this post when we know what his role is and will be back with more as potential replacements emerge.