Rob Morris and Parents celebrate the draft announcement
PROVO -- BYU All-American Rob Morris was today selected in the first round of the 65th annual NFL Draft by the Indianapolis Colts. Morris, 25, was the 28th overall selection and the first inside linebacker taken in the draft. The Colts won the NFC East in 1999, finishing 13-3 on the season.
"I'm excited to move on with this part of my career," Morris said. "I think I will fit in well with the Colts. I'm really looking forward to it. Indianapolis has a young, experienced team and having been to the playoffs last year, will only keep getting better.
"Things leading up to the draft went real fast, but when we started watching the draft on television today, things started going real slow. After about the 20th pick, my buddies and I went in the other room and started playing Nintendo. This whole experience has been a whirlwind of emotion. There have been so many rumors and projections. It was hard not to get caught up in all the rumors."
The 6-2, 250-pound Nampa, Idaho native becomes the eighth player in BYU football history to be selected in the first round of the NFL Draft since Marc Wilson was picked by the Oakland Raiders in 1980. This year's draft also marks the first time in history a BYU player has been selected in the first round in back-to-back years. (Best friend John Tait was the 14th overall pick in the 1999 draft by the Kansas City Chiefs.)
"Indianapolis plays Kansas City next year," Morris said. "It will be fun to go in there and take care of John (Tait) the way I used to do in practice when we were both at BYU."
After electing to return to BYU for his senior season, the Mountain West Conference Preseason Defensive Player of the Year went on to earn Sporting News, Football News and AFCA second-team All-America honors in 1999. Despite missing four games with an abdominal strain, Morris ranked second on the BYU roster with 77 tackles, including 45 unassisted takedowns. Morris, who's family dog was named after Hall-of-Fame linebacker Dick Butkus, helped lead the Cougars to an 8-3 regular-season record in 1999, winning the first-ever MWC Championship. Since his career first began at BYU in 1993, Morris tallied 345 career tackles, including 223 solo tackles.
After returning from injury as a senior, Morris recorded 13 tackles against UNLV and followed that performance with 13 more takedowns against Air Force. The following week, Morris was named the MWC Defensive Player of the Week after recording a game-high 15 tackles, including 14 solos in the Cougars' 30-7 win at San Diego State. Morris collected a season-high five tackles for a combined loss of 30 yards, including three sacks for minus-25 yards. He also forced two key fumbles and recovered one. His forced fumble in the third quarter broke the game open when Hans Olsen scooped up the ball and ran for a 24-yard touchdown. In his final five regular-season games, Morris produced a total 61 tackles, averaging 12.2 tackles per game.
"I appreciate everything BYU has done for me," Morris said. "I want to thank everyone who has played a part in helping me get to this point in my career. I hope to represent BYU well at the next level."
Morris becomes the first BYU linebacker selected in the first round of the NFL Draft since Todd Shell was drafted in 1984 by San Francisco.