Cornerback recruiting had been an issue for much of the last decade, with the Notre Dame staff mixing good years with down years, and sometimes the Irish struck out completely. Ever since position coach Mike Mickens arrived prior to the 2020 season the story has changed, and Notre Dame has been on fire recruiting the position.
Notre Dame's most recent cornerback pickup was Phoenix (Ariz.) Brophy Prep standout cover man Benjamin Morrison. The Irish had to beat out Alabama and Washington to land the West Coast cornerback, who is a talented but still developing defender.
Morrison trains with Rube Oliver of Elite U Training. Oliver is pushing Morrison to reach his full potential both physically and mentally. The physical goal is for Morrison to add about 20 pounds onto his 6-1, 175-pound frame, which will require great discipline. Oliver’s “unique” training methods range from having Morrison send a picture of everything he eats, along with the exact time each meal was eaten during a day, to having the talented corner send Oliver a text right before he goes to bed.
Morrison could not skip a meal or text for three months.
“(The training) seemed tedious, and it probably was, but it was moreso for him to have the understanding that the things he did inside and outside the football field, and inside and outside the training facility, was a lot more than just his physical capabilities,” Oliver explained. “We wanted to push his mental abilities to approach both performance and preparation.”
Going through this process allowed Morrison to get a taste of what was needed to be exceptional on and off the field. He understood that his decision wasn’t one that he could make solely on athletic performance.
“He had two major schools (other than Notre Dame), and one was probably going to push him more physically,” Oliver explained. “But (Ben) wanted to be pushed mentally, and that is a critical component that he values more so now than ever before.”
Oliver has had a multitude of great athletes walk through his door at Elite U, but according to him, Morrison’s personality sets himself apart. As previously stated, Oliver is as much concerned about his athletes being great off the field as they are on the field.
“I couldn’t talk highly enough about Ben,” Oliver said to Irish Breakdown. “He is definitely in my top five (athletes he has coached) because of his service and commitment. His heart is just genuine. He comes in prepared every day, and you never have to ask him (to do something) twice.”
Where does Morrison's love of service and commitment come from? Oliver believes a lot of his pupil's success off the field can be attributed to his family.
“It’s his family, it’s his father.” Oliver stressed. “He’s a pastor as well, so (Ben) is committed to serving outside the facility. He’s just an incredible young man on the field as well as off.”
In talking with Oliver it became clear why the Notre Dame coaching staff viewed him as a fit off the field.
“I believe Ben is a fit because he is inspired and encouraged to be there,” Oliver replied. “You can assume that putting an athlete in an environment where he is inspired to be is really just going to magnify the attributes they already have. I think he’s going to do incredibly well because of his physical attributes, his mental capacity, but he’s ultimately inspired and encouraged to be there.”
Notre Dame had to battle to land Morrison, and there wasn't just one thing the staff did to convince him South Bend was the place to be.
“I don’t know that it was much of a pitch that really sold him, as much as it was the culture and the things he personally values,” Oliver continues. “Yes, performance, but as well the mental (side of Notre Dame). He’s just excited to grow mentally and be pushed.”
Oliver’s methods are not the only source Morrison can pull from if wants to be great. He is not the only high level athlete in the family. His father, Darryl, played in the NFL for four seasons, and each of his older siblings played college sports, spanning from football at Arizona to gymnastics at Washington and Michigan.
Perhaps, having a family that attended different schools in multiple different states helped Ben decide to do what was truly best for him, and announce his intentions to attend a school halfway across the country.
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