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  • Writer's pictureAl Thompson

FORMER LASALLE STAR JIMMY MORRISSEY SEEMS TO HAVE FOUND A HOME WITH THE HOUSTON TEXANS

Updated: Nov 14, 2021


Jimmy Morrissey has impressed Texans coaches enough to earn a starting spot on November 7, 2021.

If you look back to the high school websites like 247sports.com and look up LaSalle College High School center Jimmy Morrissey’s recruiting page in 2016, the college interest section shows one school, Pittsburgh. It’s marked "Enrolled." That’s it.

Morrissey, despite earning All-Catholic honors twice, despite winning three varsity letters, despite helping the Explorers to a 25-7 mark (.781) during his varsity career, including a Philadelphia Catholic League title as a senior under Coach John Steinmetz and despite being selected to play in the Big 33 Football Classic, Morrissey only received offers from FBS programs Lehigh, Bucknell and Colgate. Great schools and terrific football programs, but not where he wanted to continue his football career. In 2016, Morrissey joined the Pittsburgh University football program as a preferred walk-on then redshirted. According to his bio on pittsburghpanthers.com: In 2017, Morrissey won a hotly contested battle at center during training camp and went on to start all 12 games. Morrissey was awarded a scholarship prior to the start of the season. He was named to the All-ACC Academic Football Team.

Jimmy Morrissey went from joining the football program as a walk-on at Pitt in 2016 to earning All ACC honors three consecutive years. Photo courtesy of University of Pittsburgh Athletics

By 2019, Morrissey established himself as the top center in the ACC. In 2020, Morrissey was the recipient of the 2020 Burlsworth Trophy, annually presented to the most outstanding player in college football who began his career as a walk-on. He also earned All-ACC honors for the third consecutive year. The NFL did come calling. But like the start of his college career, Morrissey, despite a career many think would land him a second to fourth round selection, the 6-foot-4, 305 pounder wasn’t taken until the seventh round (230 overall) by the Las Vegas Raiders who have Andre James, a 24-year-old, entrenched right now as the starting center. Morrissey signed his four-year rookie contract with Las Vegas on May 17. He was waived on August 31, 2021 and re-signed to the practice squad the next day. In a series of moves that mirrored his ascension within the Pitt program, things started moving quickly for the Huntingdon Valley, PA native. Morrissey was signed off the Raiders' practice squad by the Houston Texans on October 19, 2021. He made his NFL debut on November 7, 2021, as the team's starting center in a 17-9 loss to the Miami Dolphins. While that is what the records show, Morrissey actually made his debut as an active player the week before against the Los Angeles Rams. The 23-year old was active, in uniform and available to the coach to play. He didn’t get in but he was officially an NFL player. Footballstories asked Morrissey how it felt to finally set his feet on NFL soil as an actual player. “It was awesome,” Morrissey said in a recent phone interview from Houston. “It was nice to finally know I was one play from being on the field. Right now to get closer to that goal, it was a pretty cool experience.” Climbing ladders is nothing new for Morrissey. What attributes does he see needed to keep the faith?

Jimmy Morrissey has fit in well as a member of the Houston Texans offensive line. Photo courtesy of the Houston Texans

“I think it’s a combination of multiple things,” Morrissey said. “No. 1, my love for football. It's not the easiest road to go from walk-on (at Pitt). Being a draft pick is easier than a free agent but still you're behind people. You start off as center with the Raiders (practice squad after being cut) and then staying disciplined with your work ethic, showing up every day to work and then staying consistent with your routine. Those are the three things that have helped me get to where I am today." The quarterback Morrissey worked with at the Texans was fellow rookie Davis Mills out of Stanford. Mills was filling in for injured Tyrod Taylor, who was on injured reserve with a hamstring injury.

Former LaSalle College High School star Jimmy Morrissey, now with the Houston Texans, hopes the Explorers take home a state title. Photo courtesy of the Houston Texans.

Mills was taking his lumps but was playing. He started six games – all losses - before Taylor returned November 7 against Miami. Morrissey was asked about his communications with Mills. “Davis is a great guy,” Morrissey said. “We get along real well, especially after he got thrown into the fire early on. He’s a pro already at an early age. You can tell he has a great routine. I’m close with Davis already in the few weeks I’ve been here. He’s a great dude.” LASALLE CHAMPIONSHIP RUN MORRISSEY’S SENIOR YEAR WITH THE EXPLORERS Morrissey said he wears No. 79 with the Texans because it was the number he wore while playing for LaSalle College High School in Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania. Morrissey said his number at Pitt was 67, but that was taken and No. 65, his number during his brief stay with the Raiders, was also gone. “The Texans equipment manager sent me a list of seven or eight numbers to choose from,” Morrissey said. “No. 79 was the only number I had any emotional ties to. You don’t see many centers wearing No. 79, but figured I could make it cool to wear it. I love the number.” High school football fans from the Philadelphia area are aware that St. Joe’s Prep has dominated the Philadelphia Catholic League and PIAA 6A Division for the last 15 years. LaSalle is one of the Prep’s biggest rivals. Until the Explorers defeated the Hawks this year in a regular season game, the last time a LaSalle team beat St. Joe’s was in 2015 when LaSalle knocked off the Prep 29-28 to capture the Catholic League title. Morrissey was a senior on that Explorers team. “To this day, that is still one of my favorite football games ever,” Morrissey said. “The rivalries in the PCL are heated. Especially between LaSalle and the Prep. I couldn’t stand St. Joe’s Prep.” The Prep had defeated LaSalle 49-24 during the regular season. To come back and beat a team that beat them 25 points is remarkable. How did Morrissey and his teammates pull it off? “Our quarterback was Chris Ferguson, who is the current starting quarterback at Towson,” said Morrissey, who lists Eagle Jason Kelce and Steelers Maurkice Pouncey as NFL players he admired while playing in high school. . “We had a really good senior class. We were all very close. We had a strong bond with each other our senior year. My four best friends in high school were the other four starting O-linemen. We were talented and our quarterback was very good. I was the only (NFL) draft pick on the team, but we had Isaiah Jones, a linebacker playing for William and Mary, wide receiver Winston Eubanks, now with Penn State…we had a talented team. And it all came together that night, we just played together.” The win was part of a run to the PIAA State semi-finals. The Explorers knocked off Father Judge and Simon Gratz before losing to Parkland in overtime 16-13. Morrissey says he stays in touch with his former teammates especially the two quarterbacks he hiked the ball to during his high school days. “Chris is one of my closest friends Kyle is a year older than me but we were great friends in high school and when we see each other obviously we always catch up.” Morrissey says he keeps tabs on his former team and was aware of their win over the Hawks earlier in the season. He also knows LaSalle will likely have to play the Prep again in the PIAA 6A playoffs if they want to win the State Championship. “I still follow the games on Twitter,” Morrissey said. “If they can win it all, that would be awesome.” Jason Britt started the season at center for Houston, but is now on injured reserve. His backup Justin McCay had started two games at center but was moved to right guard against Miami. That left the starting center spot to Morrissey. The Texans allowed Taylor to get sacked five times in the 17-9 loss. Not great, but it's a start. Morrissey sees the tough situation in Houston as an opportunity he intends to take advantage of. “I came to Houston for a reason,” Morrissey said. “I think it’s a great opportunity here. Just being here for a couple of weeks, I love the guys I’m surrounded with in the locker room. I really do see a future here.” *

Follow Al Thompson on Twitter @thompsoniii References: wikipedia.com, maxpreps.com, pittsburghpanthers.com

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