CAREER: One of USC's most exciting and versatile players (he has played on offense at tailback and wide receiver, on defense at free safety and cornerback and on special teams in his Trojan career) whose older brother was one of the Trojans' all-time great receivers, Morton has gained 1,370 career rushing yards (29th on USC's career rushing list) for a stellar 5.4 average per carry-including 100-yard outings 8 times-on 255 carries with 9 scores in 17 games as a tailback at USC. He has made a number of long runs, including a 73-yard TD run against Oregon State in 1996, a 69-yard run against Stanford and a 49-yard TD run against UCLA in 1997, and a 98-yard scoring kickoff return against Purdue, a 42-yard run against Oregon State, a 70-yard TD on a swing pass at Oregon, a 50-yard run versus Washington and a 44-yard run at Stanford in 1998. He started 7 games in the secondary in his career (4 at free safety in 1997) and made 48 tackles and 2 interceptions. And he is 17th on USC's career punt return list, with 41 runbacks for 338 yards (8.2 avg). He also has sprinted for the USC track team for 3 years.
1999: Morton, a lightning-quick jitterbug type of runner, returns as the starting tailback as a senior in 1999 and figures to have a big season. He also might be used returning kickoffs and punts. He could contend for honors not only on the field, but he is a leading Academic All-American candidate based on his outstanding performance in the classroom.
PAUL HACKETT SAYS: "Chad is one of the premier backs in the country. His performance has been remarkable, considering he's only been a running back here for 2 years. His best is ahead of him. I'm looking for him to have a great year in 1999 and to be a real team leader."
1998: Morton started 8 games at tailback as a junior in 1998. He fell just 15 yards short of hitting the 1,000-yard rushing barrier despite missing 2 games with an injury. He ranked second in the Pac-10 in rushing (96.7). Overall in 1998, he ran for 985 yards on 199 carries (4.9 avg.) with 6 TDs and also caught 18 passes for 136 yards (7.6 avg) and 1 TD. His 985 rushing yards put him 21st on USC's season chart. He also returned 2 kickoffs for a 58.0 average (including 1 for a TD) and 4 punts for a 5.3 average. He ran for 100-plus yards in 6 games in 1998. He was a 1998 All-Pac-10 honorable mention pick. He was 1 of 4 USC captains in 1998.
He had a dramatic impact in the Purdue opener, taking his first kickoff return-on USC's first play of 1998-back 98 yards for a score and also running for a 13-yard fourth quarter TD to ice the victory (he ran for 53 yards on 15 carries overall and had 188 yards of total offense). He posted his third career 100-yard game as he ran for 110 yards (with a 12-yard TD) on a then-career-high 23 carries against San Diego State (he also caught 3 passes for 24 yards and had a 2-yard punt return). Against Oregon State, he had his fourth career 100-yard outing (and second in a row in 1998 and second in his career against the Beavers) as he rushed for a game-best 123 yards (with a 12-yard TD) on 23 carries (tying a then-career high in attempts), despite missing most of the week's practice with a strained back. He ran for 64 yards on 15 carries at Florida State, including a spectacular 7-yard TD run where he reversed his field. After sitting out the Arizona State and California games with a bruised back suffered on that Florida State scoring run, he came off the bench at Washington State to run for 68 yards on 16 carries, including a 6-yard TD (he also caught a 5-yard pass). At Oregon, he had his fifth career 100-yard game (104 yards on 20 carries) and also caught 3 passes for 79 yards, including a 70-yard TD on a swing pass. He rushed for 110 yards (his sixth career 100-yard game and fourth of 1998) on 13 carries with a 10-yard TD versus Washington and also caught 3 passes for 16 yards. Despite nursing a sprained ankle, he ran for a game-high 87 yards on 17 carries off the bench at Stanford. He ran for a game-best 120 yards on 19 carries (his seventh career 100-yard outing and fifth of 1998) and also grabbed 4 passes for 9 yards at UCLA. Against Notre Dame, he ran for a game-best and season-high 128 yards on a career-high 27 carries (100 of those yards came after halftime) to post his sixth 100-yard game of 1998 (the eighth of his career). Against TCU in the Sun Bowl, he was limited to 18 yards on 11 carries, plus he caught a 5-yard pass.
1997: Morton starred on defense (free safety and cornerback), offense (tailback and wide receiver) and special teams (punt returner) as a sophomore in 1997. He was moved from cornerback to free safety and started 4 mid-season games (California, UNLV, Arizona State, Notre Dame) there in 1997 (he backed up Darnell Lacy in USC's first 2 games, then was Rashard Cook's backup against Oregon and Washington). He was then moved to tailback for the Stanford game and saw action there in the last 3 games. He also was USC's top punt returner, with an 8.0 average on 21 runbacks. Overall while appearing in all 11 games in 1997, he made 25 tackles, with a 6-yard sack (at California), intercepted 2 passes (against Florida State and UNLV) which he returned 32 yards (16.0 avg.), recovered 2 fumbles (against Florida State and California), forced a fumble (at California, which he recovered) and broke up 5 passes on defense, and rushed for 214 yards (third on USC) on 30 carries (7.1 avg.) with 1 TD and caught 1 pass for 17 yards (at Oregon State) on offense. He was bothered the second half of the season with nagging hip, hamstring and ankle injuries. He won USC's Bob Chandler Award (top underclassman athlete/student/leader).
Against Florida State, he intercepted a pass in the end zone (which he returned 29 yards), recovered a fumble and ran back 3 punts for 27 yards. He had 1 tackle and returned 5 punts for 43 yards (with a 21-yarder) against Washington State. At California, he made 6 tackles (including a sack), forced a fumble which he then recovered, broke up 2 passes, and returned 4 punts for 38 yards. He had 6 tackles versus UNLV, as well as breaking up 2 passes and intercepting an aerial. At Arizona State, he posted 10 tackles and returned 4 punts for 25 yards. He played sparingly at Notre Dame after bruising his hip, but did manage to make a tackle and return 2 punts for 13 yards, and then played in a limited role versus Oregon. At Washington, he again played sparingly (he saw some time at cornerback), but did take a few snaps as a wide receiver (he didn't catch a pass, though). He was a backup tailback against Stanford and made the most of it, gaining 109 yards (his second career 100-yard outing) on just 7 carries, including going 69 yards to set up a TD the first time he touched the ball (a slight hamstring strain sidelined him midway through the third quarter), and he also played briefly at cornerback (getting 1 tackle). At Oregon State, he led USC in rushing off the bench with 41 yards on 13 carries, plus had a 17-yard catch and returned a punt 5 yards, before a mild ankle sprain sidelined him in the fourth quarter. He came off the bench against UCLA and rushed for 64 yards on 10 carries, including a 49-yard TD burst to give USC its only lead of the contest.
1996: Morton was the Trojans' jack-of-all-trades as a redshirt freshman in 1996. He started at cornerback in 3 late-season games (Washington State, Stanford and UCLA) and was a backup to Ken Haslip there the rest of the season, as well as being a key special teams performer. He had 6 tackles at Washington State and 4 versus Washington.
But, to make up for the temporary loss of running backs Delon Washington and Shawn Walters in the early going, Morton was a 3-way player in 3 of USC's first 4 contests. At Illinois, he made 3 tackles as a backup cornerback, he rushed for 28 yards (with a 2-yard TD) on 9 carries as the third-string tailback, and he played on various special teams (he recovered an Illini fumble on a kickoff which led to a USC TD and he returned a punt 11 yards). Against Oregon State, he played exclusively on offense as he ran for a game-high 143 yards on 13 carries (both career bests), including a 73-yard zigzagging TD dash that broke the game open. At Houston, Morton had 4 carries for 0 yards, 2 catches for 24 yards and a 7-yard punt return. He didn't play offense against California, Arizona, Arizona State, Washington State, Washington, Stanford or UCLA. He sprained his back at UCLA and missed the Notre Dame game.
Overall in 1996, he made 23 tackles (2 for losses), 1 deflection and 1 fumble recovery on defense, plus had 26 carries for 171 yards (6.6 avg.) and 2 TDs rushing, and 2 catches for 24 yards (12.0 avg.) receiving, and a team-high 16 punt returns for a team-best 149 yards (9.3 avg.). He was fifth in the Pac-10 in punt returns (9.3).
He was moved to running back (from cornerback) prior to 1996 spring practice, but was shifted back to cornerback at the start of 1996 fall practice. He was slowed in 1996 spring drills because of a sprained knee.
1995: Morton redshirted as a freshman cornerback in 1995, his first year at USC.
TRACK: He sprinted for the USC track team in the springs of 1999, 1998 and 1996. In 1999, he posted a 10.74 time to place second in a heat in the 100 meters at the Trojan Invitational, and also had wind-aided times of 10.77 for fourth at the Long Beach Track and Field Classic and 10.93 at the Benny Brown Invitational (he also ran legs on some 400-meter relay teams). In 1998, he won a heat of the 100-meter dash at the Trojan Invitational in 10.81 and was second in the 100 in the Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Quad meet in 10.6 (he also ran on some 400-meter relay squads). In 1996, he won the 100 in 11.06 in a heat of USC's Five-Way meet (he also ran the third leg on USC's victorious 400 relay squad in that meet) before a knee sprain ended his track season.
HIGH SCHOOL: He played football for 3 years at South Torrance (Calif.) High, although he missed all but the first quarter of the season opener as a 1994 senior running back after breaking his collarbone. He started at wide receiver as a 1993 junior and was a part-time starting running back as a sophomore in 1992.
He also sprinted for 3 years for South Torrance's track team, with career bests of 10.48 in the 100 meters (he finished seventh in the 1995 state 100) and 21.3 in the 200.
PERSONAL: A fine student with a B+ average (3.43 GPA) as a sociology major, he earned 1998 GTE-Academic All-District VIII first team honors and was a 3-time (1996-98) Pac-10 All-Academic first teamer. He received a Senior Recognition Award from USC in 1999 (based on leadership, service and academics). He is the younger brother of ex-USC All-American and current Detroit Lion wide receiver Johnnie Morton (an NFL first rounder). Another older brother, Eric, was a wide receiver at Dartmouth. Two older half-brothers also starred as athletes: Michael was a running back at UNLV and then with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1982-84) and Stanley played pro baseball.
CHAD MORTON ON:
His 1998 season: "That was my coming out party. I started to understand what the Trojan family is like. Before, I didn't feel like I was part of it...I'm in a position now where I have a lot of confidence in myself...One thing that hurt was people were saying there was no way I could be a Pac-10 running back, that I should be in the WAC."
Not making the 1998 All-Pac-10 first team: "I'm definitely using that as motivation for 1999. I'm not really respected throughout the league. It really hurt. All that hard work and dedication didn't really get noticed...You know, I've never gotten an award from playing football, based on performance. And no one wanted to give me a scholarship."
Playing tailback versus defensive back: "I'll play anywhere the coaches think I have a chance to play...Tailback is the position I've wanted to play my whole life. But when I first came here, the coaches thought I would be a better corner because of my size and speed...When I first came to USC and they made me a defensive back, it was something I'd never done before. I was getting beat in practice a lot. Sometimes I'd look at the running backs and get jealous...I wanted to be an All-American defensive back, like (USC secondary coach) Dennis Thurman was. I thought cornerback would be my home...I like defense, but it's so much easier on offense. You could just go in the game and relax, you never know what's going to happen, you just let things happen naturally. Playing corner you always have that threat of getting beat deep, so you're always nervous or uptight."
His size: "Even in high school, I was always underestimated because of my size. Luckily I've had the speed to make up for my size. I don't think my size has hindered me at all. It helps when I play running back because I don't think the defense can see me. By the time that they do, I can use my speed to get by them."
His speed: "Players like Barry Sanders, Napoleon Kaufman and Warrick Dunn all use speed. I try to use my speed and moves. I try to copy their style pretty much."
His vision: "I use a combination of seeing where the guys are and reading my keys. It's kind of a blur when you're out there. The game goes so fast and it's hard to see things but after you keep playing in the game, it slows down. As you get more experience, you're not as nervous, then things just start happening and you start seeing those open spot."
Catching passes: "You want to keep opponents guessing as much as possible. And it's fun catching the ball. I just want to get the ball any way I can."
Questions about his durability: "Yeah, I'm getting tired of hearing about it. But people have a right to say it because I haven't had a whole season yet. I'm lifting a lot more weights than I have been. I've put on more muscle. I definitely feel the difference...A lot of backs today are smaller backs who are able to carry the ball a lot of times and still last. I've just got to prove people wrong...Actually, I think I have great durability."
Returning punts: "It's pretty fun and exciting. It's almost like an adrenaline rush knowing they're coming at you. You have to concentrate and maintain control of your body, and be able to catch the ball and quickly react from that. I enjoy it a lot."
His early days at USC: "It was very tough. Even though I got a scholarship, I felt like I was a walk-on, like I didn't really belong. I didn't feel I was part of the Trojan family yet. I was on the side and trying to get in."
His brothers: "What my brothers did rubbed off on me. Eric used to literally drag me out of bed to work out."
Coming to USC: "Because of my size and the fact I was injured in my senior year in high school, I didn't know if I was going to be able to play college football. Nobody wanted to recruit me. In fact, for a while, I thought that I might have to go to a J.C. USC was pretty much the only school that recruited me...My brother (Johnnie) and my whole family played an important part in my coming to USC because my dad was the one who brought a highlight tape of my previous years in high school to the USC coaches. In retrospect, my brother's commitment to USC helped a lot. I know it wasn't all based on my talent...It's not bad hearing you're Johnnie's little brother, but a lot of people thought I was only here because of my brother...I know a lot of people didn't think that I deserved to come here. They said that I was here because of my brother, which is true, but I think that I've changed people's minds about whether or not I deserved to be here...That kind of thinking gave me an extra incentive to prove myself on the field. I like proving people wrong because it motivates me to do better. A lot of people didn't think I should play college football because they thought I was too small...I've been around USC for quite a while. I grew up in the USC tradition. My parents come to all the home games and all my practices. That's one of the reasons I stayed in Los Angeles, because I'm close to their support."
His family: "My family has had a big impact on my football. My parents go to all my games and are very active in my academics. You could say football is a family tradition...Football has always been a part of the family. I saw my brothers play before me and go on to college and it made me want to do the same things as them."
His parents, Johnnie Sr. and Katsuko, who are frequent visitors to USC practices: "I have great parents and I love it that they come to practice. And I love it that they care so much about me...They've hardly missed anything I've ever done...They're very supportive. I got a lot of coaching from my father and he's already had two kids play in the NFL...My parents aren't just the first people to tell me that I do something good, but also when I do something bad. They'll yell at me right out there on the practice field. So I'm constantly worrying about doing well...They're always telling me stuff. If I drop a ball, I'll hear it from the coaches and then let it go, move on to the next play. But then I'll hear it from my parents, too, and that's good. It helps me remember."
WHAT OTHERS SAY:
Former USC running back Shawn Walters: "He makes runs like you only see on 'John Madden Football.'"
Former Oregon State head coach Jerry Pettibone: "He's one of the most exciting runners I've seen in a long time."
Oregon head coach Mike Bellotti: "Chad Morton is one of the fastest players on the field and he obviously adds a speed dimension when he plays."
Former Oregon State head coach Mike Riley: "He is explosive and fast. Even though he's little, he's hard to get down."
USC offensive coordinator Hue Jackson: "He's like the Energizer Bunny out there. He's gotten stronger and added more girth. Any time you can put the ball in a guy's hands who is a threat to get to the end zone, that makes a difference. Everything doesn't have to be perfect for Chad to make a play. When things aren't exactly the way you wanted, he can squirt out and make a play. Pound for pound, he might be the best player I've ever coached. He meant as much to our offense in 1998 as (ex-USC Butkus Award winning linebacker) Chris Claiborne meant to our defense. He's gifted. He's exceptionally fast, has quick feet, real good vision, and he's hard to tackle one on one."
Former USC Butkus Award winning linebacker Chris Claiborne: "Chad brings a lot of speed to the game. He's the kind of guy who stretches the defense."
Former USC safety Rashard Cook: "Chad can score on you in a second. He has to scare you every time he touches the ball. He hits the hole so fast and is right on top of you. As a defensive back, you know if you miss the tackle it's a touchdown."
Robyn Norwood, Los Angeles Times: "Chad Morton is small, a little bit fragile...and very, very fast."
Mike Waldner, South Bay Daily Breeze: "Pencil him in as USC's little big man...He has sensational speed. He also has the outstanding runner's knack of dipping in to make a sweep appear as if it is a run at tackle. Then he cruises back a few yards as he is runner laterally to the line of scrimmage and explodes to the outside, turning upfield for a big gain. And he is tough. He may get beat up. But he does not back down."
CHAD MORTON CAREER STATISTICS