Sept. 22, 2004
by Bridget Veihmeyer
Notre Dame junior Bob Morton spent his entire freshman year watching then senior and now Cleveland Brown center Jeff Faine snap the ball. He then spent the 2003 spring practices vying for the position with teammate Zach Giles and, after establishing his abilities, earned the starting position. In `03 he started at center for all 11 games in which he played, only to face competition from current sophomore John Sullivan during the off-season. When coaches ultimately decided to play Sullivan at center, Morton did not complain. He just moved a little to the left.
“I had a feeling the shift to left guard was coming and I’d always considered myself versatile enough to play that position,” says Morton. “I played center and guard during the spring and more and more I just made the transition to a left-handed stance.”
For Morton, the transition comes with both pros and cons.
“To be honest, it’s a little easier on the brain. I have a little less responsibility because I don’t have to yell at everyone or worry about snapping the ball. I think it’s gone really well, although I’m a little bitter that I don’t get to touch the ball anymore. Who knows, maybe we can get a pass out to me at tight end or something.”
To make the switch, the 6-4, 300 lb. Texan focused on losing weight and gaining agility and speed.
“When you’re towards the outside of the line–not that I’m on the outside, but I’m closer than I was at center, you have to go after the faster defensive ends,” he explains.
“My feet have definitely gotten quicker and while I’ve always had good foot placement, I’ve never been the fastest. Losing weight has definitely enhanced my ability to get outside.”
In the past two games, Morton’s off-season regimen appears to be paying off, as he has helped the rest of the offensive line provide pass protection and blocking. Most notably, they have allowed freshman Darius Walker to rush for 121 yards vs. Michigan and 98 yards vs. Michigan State. Even still, Morton knows they can improve.
“We’ve made progress over the first three weeks of the season and we’re happy with that, but we’re developing a hunger to progress more. The small feeling of satisfaction is outweighed by the desire to make bigger improvements than we’ve made.”
As for the rest of the season, he has high expectations.
“I want to be known as that offensive line. I remember the Denver Broncos when they won their first Superbowl vs. the Green Bay Packers. They had the dominating offensive line in the NFL and I want to be the dominating NCAA offensive line.”