Hard work isn't unfamiliar to linebacker Nicholas Morrow. He's been hustling for this moment since he was in Huntsville, Alabama.
Nicholas Morrow is coming off what Coach Gruden described as "his best game as a Raider," taking the reins at starting outside linebacker for Cory Littleton (Reserve/COVID-19) and cutting loose in the 37-12 win against the Broncos. Morrow finished with five tackles, two pass deflections, a sack and a forced fumble.
Morrow's journey to Las Vegas has been nothing short of surreal, filled with grit and determination. After going unnoticed by most recruiters at Division I schools at Huntsville High in Huntsville, Ala., he decided to take his talents to Greenville College, a Division III program.
"When I showed up to Greenville, I didn't think I would make it to the NFL," Morrow said. "My mentality going into Greenville was just to be the best player I could possibly be. It's a Division III school, so I had to pay to go there, and If I was going to pay to go there, I wanted to be the best I could be. Every week I would just try to compete against my best self, so whatever I did last week, I'd want to do better that week."
"I didn't realize I could make it to the league, honestly, until the league called."
As a Greenville Panther, Morrow was a NCAA Division III All-American, UMAC MVP, a member of UMAC's All-Conference First Team and recorded over 200 tackles. In May 2017, the Raiders organization decided to take a chance on the Division III standout and signed him as undrafted free agent, sending the kid from Alabama out to the West Coast.
"I think my first time I drove into California, I got off the plane and saw palm trees and was like 'what are these' and thought that was pretty cool. The landscape is a little different but the weather is great… it's a little hot here, but I kind of like it though."
"It's a lot different than Alabama for sure."
Despite being in a different environment, Morrow's work ethic and drive has continued to be the same. Morrow is currently in the midst of his best season as a Raider with 36 tackles, four pass deflections and an interception through the first nine games of the season.
Defensive Coordinator Paul Guenther attributes Morrow's development to him continuing to become more comfortable in the system and having more confidence in himself as a player.
"He's a smart guy to know where to line up," said Paul Guenther. "What he's doing is, he's self-correcting himself in practice before I can even walk up to him and make a correction. He'll say 'you know, I should've done this' or 'hey, I should've done this.' Whatever it is, it's the little detail things with him that he's really, really becoming an expert on, and that's what makes you [go from] a good player to a great player. That's the trend he's moving on."
The Raiders return to the practice field at Intermountain Healthcare Performance Center as they prepare for their Week 11 matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs at Allegiant Stadium.