University of Iowa senior linebacker James Morris was named Big Ten Conference defensive Player of the Week for his play in Iowa’s 17-10 overtime win over Northwestern. The honor is the second of the season for Morris, who earned the same recognition for his play in Iowa’s 23-7 win at Minnesota. He was also named by College Sports Madness as the Big Ten defensive Player of the Week.
The Iowa defense did not allow Northwestern to score in the opening half and allowed just one touchdown, holding the Wildcats to their lowest point total in the series since 2002. After Iowa scored a touchdown to open the overtime period, the Hawkeye defense held Northwestern without a first down to secure the win.
Morris, a Solon native, was credited with eight tackles against the Wildcats, including four solo tackles. He recorded 2.5 tackles for loss, including two of Iowa’s six QB sacks. Morris also collected his first fumble recovery of the season. Senior linebacker Christian Kirksey led Iowa with 12 tackles, while fellow senior linebacker Anthony Hitchens added nine tackles, including two tackles for loss.
Morris has been in Iowa’s starting line-up since early in his freshman season. He has totaled 357 career tackles to rank eighth on the career chart. He was recently named one of 20 quarterfinal candidates for the Lott IMPACT Trophy and is also on watch lists for the Bednarik Award and the Nagurski Award. He has twice earned academic all-Big Ten honors.
The Big Ten honor is the second for Morris and the third for an Iowa defensive player this season (DB B.J. Lowery vs. Western Michigan). In addition, WR Kevonte Martin-Manley was named Big Ten special teams Player of the Week vs. Western Michigan.
Morris becomes the first Iowa defensive player to earn the Big Ten honor twice in one season since 2004, when DL Jonathan Babineaux was recognized for his play in wins over Wisconsin and Purdue. Former Hawkeye DL Adrian Clayborn was honored twice in 2009, but that included his special teams play in a win at Penn State.
Iowa (5-3, 2-2) hosts Wisconsin (5-2, 2-1) Saturday at 11 a.m. (ABC/ESPN2).
(release courtesy of hawkeyesports.com)