Having been granted an extra year of eligibility after the 2020 football season because of COVID-19, Arkansas senior wide receiver Tyson Morris had the opportunity to seek out playing time at another school. Instead, he chose to stay with the Hogs and fight for his spot.
Despite multiple losing seasons and a coaching change in his first two years playing as a Razorback, Morris took a chance –– not only on himself, but on the school he grew up loving.
“It was a big thought for me over the summer,” Morris said. “Wherever I decided to go, I wanted to make plays and contribute, so I kind of thought about that all summer. That was what I wanted to do, and I’m happy I’m able to do that right here, in my home state.”
This season is not the first time Morris has bet on himself. He originally committed to Central Oklahoma University after a strong career at Fayetteville High School. But during his freshman year, he decided to transfer to the UofA and back home.
"I felt like I could play at a higher level," Morris said in a 2019 press conference. "I felt like I just needed to push myself.”
Morris, whose father Isaiah Morris averaged 10.2 points per game in his senior season at Arkansas playing for Hall of Fame basketball coach Nolan Richardson, said his parents encouraged him to enroll at Arkansas and walk on if that was what he wanted to do.
"It was always my dream to play SEC football and play for the Hogs,” Morris said in 2019. “So I just followed my dream."
Just before the 2019 season, his dream paid off. After multiple members of the wide receiver group sustained injuries in training camp, Morris was thrust into a more prominent role on the team. He made the most of his opportunity, prompting then-head coach Chad Morris to put him on scholarship.
Under the leadership of Chad Morris, the Razorbacks had more starting quarterbacks than wins in the head coach’s two seasons on the Hill. With that inconsistency, Tyson Morris was not surprised his career did not take off the way he envisioned.
Entering the 2021 season, Morris had zero starts in 32 games with 24 catches for 252 yards and three touchdowns. Through eight games in 2021, Morris has recorded career-high numbers with 14 receptions for 236 yards and two touchdowns, and he is the second-leading receiver on the team.
Morris has been an integral part of the offense, noting his willingness to use his body to make a play, Arkansas head coach Sam Pittman said.
“He's making critical at-the-point-of-attack-blocks, and he's making critical catches.” Pittman said in a press conference. "It just goes to show, in my opinion, that transferring isn't always the answer if you're not playing. Maybe play better, maybe work harder, maybe get your shoulder right, whatever it is. He's a great example of that.”
Morris is driven by a constant belief in himself and his abilities, he said.
“I’m just glad I’m able to execute with those guys and come out whenever my name is called and come down with the ball,” Morris said. “I feel like it’s building confidence in them as well as building confidence in me so I’m happy about it.”
Morris appreciates individual success, but he finds team success much more satisfying, he said.
“It means the world honestly,” Morris said. “There’s no better feeling. I was yelling when I came off the field (after defeating Texas A&M). There’s no better feeling because I’ve been here through the drought. I’ve been here when it was down down, as bad as it could be. To see us on the uprise, there’s no better feeling.”