PULLMAN – Jamal Morrow was not the first talented high school running back to be offered a car, cash and a new laptop for making a certain choice, although his offer was probably the most public.
It wasn’t a coach or a clandestine representative of a football team telling Morrow he could have these riches, but rather Drew Carey, the host of the popular TV game show “The Price Is Right.”
Morrow came away with a couple of thousand dollars worth of clothes, but missed the big prizes in the Showcase Showdown, because his guess on the total value of the car, computer and $2,500 cash was off by less than $500.
When he finally arrived at WSU, the Cougars equipment guys had a couple of extra gifts for him, though: a new nickname, “The Price is Wrong,” and a highlight video of Morrow’s game show experience that the entire team screened together.
“I didn’t tell anybody. I don’t know how they found out,” Morrow said. “But they made a clip of me and a tape of everything that happened on ‘The Price is Right.’ Now, I’m a freshman, and it was embarrassing, but everybody was yelling and it was fun.”
Now, it’s Morrow who’s handing out the gifts. In last week’s 52-31 win over Oregon State, the WSU running back scored a pair of touchdowns, one of which he dedicated to his brother, because it was his birthday.
“I’ll take one for myself, but the other one was for him,” Morrow said.
Those two scores were Morrow’s first trips to the end zone in college. That’s a surprising fact, considering he was the team’s leading rusher and fourth-leading receiver last year as a redshirt freshman.
Morrow shined in a split backfield with Gerard Wicks last season and has still been a contributor with the addition of Keith Harrington, creating a trio of options at running back. Morrow was a key player in WSU’s wins over Oregon and OSU. He rushed for 68 yards on eight carries against the Ducks as the Cougars racked up 136 rushing yards, the team’s most since Mike Leach became the head coach.
“I think the other two backs in some areas have single strengths that are stronger, but overall, as far as all three phases he’s probably got the best overall game,” Leach said. “Versatile, (he) does a pretty decent job at all three things. Decent blocker, decent ball carrier, he’s decent at catching the ball out of the backfield.”
Morrow’s season has not been without its trials, though. After carrying the ball eight times in the opener against Portland State, Morrow did not get a single carry in the team’s next three games and did not play against Rutgers.
Running backs coach Jim Mastro determines playing time in the first half based on how well the three players practice in the preceding week. Whoever has the hot hand in the first half will play the most in the second.
Wicks and Harrington were the best backs during that stretch, and Morrow went from the top of the team’s depth chart this year to the bottom, for a little while.
“It was frustrating, of course, but at the end of the day, I’m going to do whatever it takes to help this team win,” Morrow said. “If I have to block and go out there and be a left tackle, I’ll be a left tackle.”
Mastro said that Morrow’s practice energy never slowed while his teammates were playing in front of him, and that he seemed especially happy to see the other running back succeed.
“He’s just the ultimate team player,” Mastro said. “He played well on special teams those two weeks and he knew his time would come.”
Subscribe to the sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.