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Wanya Morris, Other Freshmen Want to be “Face of the Program”

Photo by Jake Nichols/RTI

RTI contributor Robert Hughes is the author of this article 

“We have to come together. The only way we’re going to get better is if we rebuild and recruit, you know what I mean? That’s my message.”

For a true freshman in the midst of a 1-4 season, left tackle Wanya Morris has already gathered a great deal of perspective not only for himself, but for Tennessee’s football program as a whole.

During his first media availability of his young Tennessee career on Tuesday, Morris opened up about his experience thus far with the Vols.

Coming to a struggling program like Tennessee as a five-star prospect, Morris knew that playing (and potentially starting) immediately was a possibility, but he says that help from his fellow 2019 signees, specifically five-star tackle Darnell Wright and four-star running back Eric Gray, have made the process an easy one.

“We all talked about this before we even came here that we had the possibility to play,” Morris explained on Tuesday. “So we took it upon ourselves to come in and make an impact.”

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Just five games in, that impact is already being felt for the Vols.

Morris and Wright are both starting on the offensive line, and Gray has already drawn comparisons to New Orleans Saint running back and former Tennessee fan-favorite Alvin Kamara in Gray’s limited time on the field.

The key, Morris claims, is keeping the same mindset among everyone — one that looks toward the future of the program.

“We all sat down and talked to each other before we came. We could come in and make an impact and be the face of this whole program,” Morris said. “Turning it around, flipping it, and making Tennessee great again, that’s what I stress to recruits nowadays.”

Of course, Morris has not only given advice to future Vols, but he’s received it from current ones, too. That’s something Morris noted has been critical to his development. Before his first ever game at Tennessee against Georgia State, Morris said that fellow lineman and former five-star Trey Smith gave him valuable encouragement.

“I was kind of nervous, but I had people like Trey [Smith] calming me down and telling me to relax and just play the game,” Morris explained. “It’s going to be alright if you just take it one play at a time.”

In his time with the media, Morris was also complimentary of linemen Marcus Tatum, Jahmir Johnson, and Brandon Kennedy, noting that those veterans, in addition to Smith, have helped him improve.

The offensive line as a whole has taken its lumps this season, especially with younger players like Morris and Wright playing so much. But there have been signs of improvement, and progress can be seen.

Although showing sparks of success, Tennessee’s record still sits at 1-4. If the program’s future record is to reflect the success that Morris has been selling to recruits, the Vols will certainly have to improve. For Morris, that improvement starts on a personal level.

“I still have to improve, honestly. There’s a lot I want to get better at.”

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