Celebrated high school quarterback tackles pressures of Michigan football, Twitter microscope

WARREN, Mich. - Shane Morris is the most celebrated high school quarterback in the state of Michigan in a decade.

Pressure? Sure. He can deal with that.

Expectations? The University of Michigan offered him a scholarship before his junior season. All he knows is the word "expectations."

One aspect of being the top prospect in the state that those who came before him never faced: the overwhelming emergence of Facebook and Twitter.

Talk to him about handling the up's and down's of 15,000 Twitter followers sharing their every thought and opinion with him on a daily basis, and you'll come to find out the 18-year old is always learning.

"Most of the followers are Michigan fans, but being a quarterback going to Michigan, (hate) comes with the territory. You have to learn to take that as fuel," Morris says.

Walk into the Pilots locker room and you'll see a bulletin board filled with print-outs of tweets and messages blasting the 18-year old. That's Morris' doing.

"He has to get used to the pressure. I told him, he goes to U of M, first time he gets in the game and does something wrong, he's going to have 113-thousand enemies," De La Salle head coach Paul Verska said.

The "it factor," if you will, that Morris undoubtedly possesses, is what gives his coach such confident assurance that the young eighth grader he watched five years ago will succeed.

"He wants that pressure. He thrives off it. That's the guy you want as your quarterback and leader," Verska says of Morris.

When the Pilots quarterback opens up his Twitter account, it's not all negativity. Since he became part of the Michigan family in what he calls "a dream come true," his public persona has taken on a level past that of local celebrity.

"I get tweets from Indonesia, Australia. Some crazy people. It's awesome," he laughs.

Morris' teammates hardly think of him as an international superstar. While they recognize his all-world skill set, they know he's the same Shane who has lined up next to them for four years.

He's just like the rest of them, putting his purple and gold pants on one leg at a time.

"People have this hyped up image of him, but you really just have to talk to him for ten minutes and you'll feel like he's your best friend," wide receiver Jack Wangler explains.

"We have a lot of fun," Morris says. "Coaches say we have too much fun."

All eyes are on Morris this season. On a traditionally run-first De La Salle team, Morris will be thoroughly judged, scrutinized, and critiqued with each pass. He's used to that. Whether it's in person or on his Twitter ap on his phone, he's used to instant feedback.

And so maybe this season and all of its aspects will be the perfect final exam before he takes the next step. But Morris doesn't let himself get that far.

"I'm still an 18-year old kid going into his senior year of high school, playing for his high school football team. Next, we hope to achieve our goal of winning the state championship."

He's just a kid.

With a rocket arm and an international following of thousands.

Brad Galli is a Sports Reporter for WXYZ. Follow Brad on Twitter @BradGalli .

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