The Washington Times - January 21, 2014, 07:37PM

MOBILE, Ala. – Growing up with a father who was a Michigan football fan, Stephen Morris took a liking at a young age to Tom Brady.

He’d watch the New England Patriots as often as he could, keeping an eye on the quarterback’s fundamentals, techniques and general demeanor. When he’d practice, he’d try to replicate some of what he saw from Brady.


But if Morris, Miami’s starting quarterback for the past two seasons, makes it to the NFL, he’ll have the Seattle Seahawks’ Russell Wilson to thank, not Brady.

Wilson has led the Seattle Seahawks to the Super Bowl this season based upon both his running and throwing ability. More appropriately, he’s done so while standing just 5-foot-11 – a height considered short for a professional quarterback.

Morris, meanwhile, is one of four quarterbacks invited to participate in the Senior Bowl on Saturday who measures just around the 6-foot mark. He stood at 6-foot-1 and ¾ inches when he checked in Monday morning, slightly taller than Clemson’s Tajh Boyd, Georgia’s Aaron Murray and San Jose State’s David Fales, giving him a significant buffer from repeatedly answering questions about whether size matters.

“I don’t think so, because those guys definitely set the standard for a lot of guys that are considered short,” Morris said, referring to Wilson and Drew Brees, the 6-foot New Orleans Saints quarterback. “It’s important to be tall at the quarterback position, but if you anticipate right and prepare right, the ball will get where it needs to go.”

When Wilson went through his pre-draft preparation following the 2011 season – including a stop at the Senior Bowl – his size only magnified his problems. He was referred to as an athlete, and not in a complimentary way; despite success at both N.C. State and Wisconsin, where he played his senior season, many scouting reports struggled to accurately summarize Wilson’s ability.

He ended up as the sixth quarterback taken, following not only the Indianapolis Colts’ Andrew Luck and the Washington Redskins’ Robert Griffin III, but also the Miami Dolphins’ Ryan Tannehill, the Cleveland Browns’ Brandon Weeden and the Denver Broncos’ Brock Osweiler. All he’s done since then is earn the starting quarterback job in training camp, help the Seahawks qualify for the playoffs last season and then advance to the Super Bowl this season.

Where Wilson and Morris differ is in their perception. Wilson was always generally regarded as a professional prospect certain to be taken by the late rounds of the draft; Morris, on the other hand, may not even be selected. His inconsistency, his decision-making and, of course, his size are among his biggest criticisms.

Morris threw 21 touchdown passes in each of the last two seasons, and he became only the second quarterback in school history, behind Gino Torretta, to throw for more than 3,000 yards in two different seasons.

As a potential late-round pick, Morris won’t be expected to immediately compete for a starting role, allowing him time to develop behind an established quarterback and learn a professional system.

And if that should end up being someone like Brady, or even Wilson, Morris already knows what he’ll do.

“I might as well get as much as I can from these guys and learn from them,” Morris said. “Just do all the little things and take all the notes in the meeting room, and that will help you develop into a better quarterback. It’s not what you want going into it. You want to play and you want to do all that stuff, but I think it would be a great opportunity to learn from a great.”