Columbia native Tre Morris making most of his Mizzou baseball opportunity

Eric Blum
Columbia Daily Tribune

Tre Morris' dream growing up was to put on a helmet, shoulder pads and run out of the home locker room at Faurot Field, Missouri's longtime home football stadium.

At one time, that fantasy appeared to have a path to reality, as an advanced player in Columbia's youth football scene. Then, he continued his improvements at Battle. 

Visions of wearing the gold, black and white Tiger football stripes started at a young age, as his father, Mike Morris, was an all-Big 12 Conference offensive lineman for Missouri from 1994-97. 

The younger Morris was a gridiron wrecking ball at 5-foot-10, making 159 tackles in his final season with the Spartans. Unfortunately, it was evident he wasn't the behemoth his father was, and size is an invaluable desired trait for high-level college football.

"I would say probably about halfway through junior year, I was like, 'Probably not going to grow anymore, so I guess let's just stick with baseball,'" Morris said of his outlook. 

Morris was also an integral member of Battle's baseball team as its starting catcher and fielded several Division I offers on the diamond.

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Missouri's Tre Morris swings at a pitch during a game against Georgia last Sunday at Taylor Stadium.

"The biggest thing for Tre was always going be the size factor," said Hallsville head coach Justin Conyers, who was Battle's head football coach from 2013-19. On the Spartans staff was Mike Morris, one of Conyers' best friends. "It was never the heart of the kid or the athleticism of the kid. There was always going to be guys that were going to be a little bit bigger, a little bit stronger and a little bit faster in the (Southeastern Conference) and especially at the Division I football level.

"We kind of had that conversation about, 'We know as coaches and I know from coaching him without a reasonable doubt that he could play (football) for the University of Missouri. And he would be somewhere on the field early on, especially special teams.' But he was really good at baseball, too."

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Why did Tre Morris commit to the Missouri baseball program?

Once other SEC baseball programs started to inquire about Morris' availability, he knew that sport was the best route to play college athletics at the highest level.

That didn't stop the football offers from rolling in, though.

"He had tons of football options," Conyers said. "There were several coaches that I can recall to this day who said, 'Please let him know that if he chooses not to continue with baseball, we'll take him.' He was definitely an (FCS), mid-major-type guy football-wise. He would be a freakin' All-American, I believe, in Division II, like in the MIAA Conference."

Missouri's Tre Morris reacts while rounding the bases during a game against Georgia on April 23 at Taylor Stadium.

Part of the dream of suiting up for MU football was playing for his hometown school, one his family is connected to beyond his father.

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Tre's late mother, Heather Morris, worked for MU as director of the Enhanced Learning Program, part of the athletic department's academic system. Ben Davidson, a former Tiger long snapper, is Tre's uncle and Heather's younger brother. 

After Heather passed away from breast cancer in March 2018, the Morris family received constant support from the MU athletics community.

When Tre signed his letter of intent to join the Tigers' baseball program in May 2018, it was a decision to stay home and close to his MU family. 

Mizzou baseball head coach Steve Bieser counting on Morris

Morris appeared in 10 games as a true freshman in 2019 and made four starts in the shortened 2020 campaign.

So far in 2021, Morris is batting .273 with two home runs and 10 RBIs. He's also got a .991 fielding percentage in 24 games. 

"It's been outstanding just watching him and a guy that has really shined offensively for us," Missouri head baseball coach Steve Bieser said of Morris last week. "... We're really big on trying to get our guys in the right approach and staying comfortable and every pitch can result in a hit if we just stay balanced, and he's done a really good job for us offensively. So he's going to continue to get those opportunities offensively and we're going to count on him a lot."

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Taylor Stadium isn't exactly where Morris dreamed of calling his collegiate athletic home. But he's at MU and making the most of the opportunity.

Perhaps more importantly, he's still a Tiger, just like his mom, dad and uncle.  

"He's on fire right now," Conyers said of Morris. "... I just sent him a text message the other day. I've been thinking about it a lot and watching all of his highlights and everything his dad has been sending me. And I sent him a message, I said, 'I just want you to know how extremely proud I am of you for what all you've done. It's big-time and I'm so happy to see you doing well at this level.'

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"There were so many people through the years that doubted him, didn't think he could make it at the Division I level. And he's proved everybody wrong."

Contact Eric Blum at eblum@columbiatribune.com. Follow @ByEricBlum on Twitter.

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