Stephon Morris was a vocal guy during his time with the Nittany Lions — and that part of him hasn’t changed.
Morris, a Penn State cornerback from 2009-12, joined us for this week’s edition of “Five Questions.”
Morris told his favorite Bill O’Brien story, talked about Trent Richardson and the 2010 Crimson Tide, and discussed his love for colorful Manchester United striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
You won’t want to miss this:
Q: I’ll be short and to the point with the first question. What is your favorite Bill O’Brien story?
A: Oooo, my favorite Bill O’Brien story. It would probably be when we first found out we got the sanctions. I just think this was so cool on his behalf. It was kind of like free agency. We had coaches coming on campus like Illinois and whoever. We had people calling our parents. Me and (Adrian) Amos; Illinois had just knocked on our door. We go back to the building, and I tell coach John Butler at first, and he’s livid. Butler tells O’Brien, and he had me and Amos simultaneously tweet something regarding Illinois and their football program. It went crazy. We got so many retweets off of it. Illinois tried to say at the Big Ten press conferences that they didn’t come on-campus. They said they didn’t do what we accused them of doing. It was just hilarious. Our coach had our backs, and he believed us. ... Whatever we needed down the road after football, he was going to look out for us. And he really kept his promise. I work with the National Football League headquarters now, and he was one of my key references. He wrote me a very good reference letter. It was just amazing. I really appreciated it.
Q: What are you doing with the league office?
A: So I manage projects related to health. Physical, financial, mental. It’s for the active members and retirees. We just want to make sure guys coming into a transition have everything they need. Any guys whether they’re getting cut or retiring on their own terms, we try to make sure they’re not depressed. That they can go back to school. That they know that the NFL cares.
Q: You were at Penn State from 2009 to 2012, and in that time, you guys went up against a lot of talented offensive weapons: Terrelle Pryor, Braxton Miller, Melvin Gordon to name a few. In your four years with the Nittany Lions, who was toughest player to gameplan for?
A: Trent Richardson, that year we played at Alabama. They had Julio Jones; he was hard to gameplan for, too. They actually had Mark Ingram, too, but he didn’t play. They had Eddie Lacy backing up. He was their third-teamer. That whole Alabama offense in general. But if I had to give it to anyone, it was Trent Richardson. ... Right after they won the national championship. Joe Paterno was there, of course. To be honest, that was one of the hardest teams we faced in my four years there. And people probably aren’t going to like this, but I think because of the mutual respect (Nick) Saban had for Paterno in that game, he kind of let us off easy. But they were just killing us with the run, running the ball down our throats.
Q: After wrapping up your time at Penn State, you were with the Patriots for a bit. What’s your favorite memory from that experience?
A: My favorite memory was when Bill O’Brien came to practice. It was OTAs, and we had a ‘special guest’ there, and it happened to be him. I don’t know why, but that was my best practice, was when he was there. I just wanted to make sure that the Patriots knew I belonged, but I just wanted him to be happy for me. Matt Stankiewitch signed with the Patriots that year, too, and we both had pretty good practices. And when Bill O’Brien first got to Penn State, he used to have these sayings around the building when you leave and when you come in. ‘Penn State Way,’ whatever he called it. When me and Stank first got to New England, we saw the same exact signs. We were like, ‘No wonder where he got this from.’ He took everything (Bill) Belichick did. The signs, the way he talked. Everything he did in New England, we did at Penn State.
Q: I saw the other day you retweeted Manchester United’s post about Zlatan Ibrahimovic returning. I’m a Liverpool supporter, so we might have some issues. Are you a big Premier League guy, and if so when did you start?
A: I’ve been following Zlatan his whole career. AC Milan, Juventus, PSG and then when he went to Man U, that’s when I became the biggest Premier League fan. At first, I was a little nervous he’d come back because we just signed Romelu Lukaku. But I’m sold on Man U. That’ll be my team for the rest of time. I hate Liverpool. I hate Chelsea. ... (Zlatan) just reminds me of myself when I played. He just doesn’t care. Very smart with the game. Very cocky; I like that. I like how he gets involved and is a natural leader. I love that about him.