Morris Norrise’s work ethic has led to success for Sac State football

Curtis Manlapig

Senior wide receiver Morris Norrise has been an integral part of the Sacramento State football team for five seasons as he is heading into his final game Saturday against UC Davis.

Norrise, grew up in Berkeley where both of his parents worked multiple jobs while supporting a large family. His dad worked two to three jobs and his mom was working to get her degree while caring for her four children.

Norrise cites his parents as his biggest inspirations in life for the sacrifices they made for him and his siblings.

“[My parents] are two of the hardest working people I have ever met,” Norrise said.

Norrise began his football career in the sixth grade while playing for the Berkeley Cougars Pop Warner football team.

“I told my dad I wanted to play football and the next day he was like, ‘yeah you’re playing with the Cougars,’” Norrise said. “I was happy and scared at the same time, because I never played contact before.”

Before reaching Sac State, Norrise went to Berkeley High School where he found a mentor and father-figure in former head coach Alonzo Carter who arrived during Norrise’s junior year and has fond memories of the young receiver.

His initial reaction of Norrise was he was a prankster and that mentality stemmed from the previous coaching staff.

“He wasn’t a guy I took way too seriously. He would work, but I thought he was average,” Alonzo Carter said, who now coaches at Contra Costa College.

Alonzo Carter noticed a change in Norrise’s work ethic and was pleased to see him try and get better.

“[Norrise] would get a group of guys together and work out on the weekends at Berkeley High School,” Alonzo Carter said. “I was proud to see him doing that, he didn’t have too.”

While Norrise succeeded on the field for the most part, he had a taste of failure during his final high school football game – dropping what would be the game-winning touchdown pass in the final seconds. Norrise approached Alonzo Carter remorseful about the play, but his coach told him to keep his head up.

“Young man, you could never let me down,” Alonzo Carter said. “This is a life lesson, but you could never let me down as long as you are doing good at life.”

Since that play, he has followed the career path of his former player.

“Morris is a true joy. He does things that you just don’t get,” Alonzo Carter said. “He’s responded in just a positive manner, and I’m just happy to be called his coach.”

Heading into the final game of the 2013 season, Norrise has hauled in 75 receptions for 769 yards and four touchdowns. He is nine receptions away from breaking the single-season mark of 83 by Tony Washington in 2004.

Norrise credits offseason workouts with fellow wide receiver, junior DeAndre Carter, for helping him get better at the position.

“[DeAndre Carter] motivated me to do extra (work) because I saw him out there and it made me want to go out there and do more,” Norrise said. “It reminded me when I was younger when I would do extra, I lost sight of that, but I went back to it when I saw him do it.“

DeAndre Carter has been impressed with Norrise and how he prepares for each upcoming season.

“Me and Mo get after it in the offseason, and that’s where you make your money,” DeAndre Carter said. “Mo has a really really strong work ethic.”

Norrise has enjoyed success as a Hornet and he has been rewarded for it. He has garnered three awards, two being honorable mention all-Big Sky Conference awards in 2010-11 and he was named to the second team all-Big Sky in 2012.  

“It feels good, you being part of this team and helping them has gotten you personal accolades,” Norrise said.

With Davis coming up, Norrise knows it is his last chance to win the Causeway Classic. The last time Sac State beat Davis was in Norrise’s freshman year in which he redshirted.

“I get real hyped because I have a couple friends on the Davis team and they play defense,” Norrise said. “Andre Allen is the main one. It makes the game more exciting, because when they talk to you, it’s like motivation to make me want to do even better. Ive been playing against him for four years now.”

DeAndre Carter knows the Hornets are losing a big part of the team after the Davis game.

“[Norrise] is like my big brother, it’s gonna be emotional for me this Saturday,” DeAndre Carter said. “Were gonna miss Mo and his playmaking ability on the field at all times.”

Norrise’s aspirations following college revolve around one thing, the National Football League. He plans to train for the upcoming draft after the season ends and use his family as motivation to achieve his goal.

“I would love to go to the NFL,” Norrise said. “(My family’s) drive and motivation is more motivation to get what I want so my family can have whatever they want.”