A peek at the top five rushers in the NFL through four weeks reveals several household names and one not-so-familiar one: Marshawn Lynch, Jamaal Charles, LeSean McCoy, Arian Foster and ... Alfred Morris?
Morris, who has perhaps taken a backseat to that other Washington Redskins rookie who lines up with him in the offensive backfield, has come bursting out of the gates this season. Through four games, Morris has rushed for 376 yards on 82 attempts. His four rushing touchdowns ties Arian Foster and Robert Griffin III for tops in the league.
While other running backs in Morris' class were more heralded coming out of college -- Trent Richardson, Doug Martin, David Wilson and more -- the Pensacola, Fla., native has relied on an unrelenting work ethic that first landed him a spot on the Redskins' roster. Eleven running backs were taken before Morris in April's NFL draft, and he has outpaced each of them.
Morris credits his parents for instilling him with a solid appreciation for hard work. His mother, Yvonne, went back to school to get a bachelor's and Master's degree while raising Morris and his six brothers.
"It just let me know that, all the things she had on top of the school work, it’s nothing too hard," Morris told the Washington Post. "If you really want it, just go out there and reach it."
Morris' father, Ronald, acted as a parent to his own siblings as well as Morris and his brothers.
"He was working construction and going to school, doing stuff like this, buying his brothers and sisters school supplies and school clothes," Morris said. "Just that hard work was instilled in us when we were growing up. I’m just trying to go out there and make them proud no matter what I do. I’m just thankful for them. They’re the fuel for my fire."
Morris played both running back and linebacker in high school, and Florida Atlantic University was the only school to offer him a scholarship. Despite not knowing exactly where Florida Atlantic was located, Morris accepted. He went on to start for three years and tally 31 touchdowns and more than 3,500 rushing yards. But at the NFL's draft in April, 172 names were called before Morris'.
Now, Morris is one of the league's rising young stars, a feat that no one expected. Well, almost no one.
"Am I surprised? Not really. Not performance-wise," Morris told the Washington Post. "Just more than anything, surprised that my opportunity came sooner than I thought it would come. But I always told myself, 'All you need is the opportunity and once you get it, you make the most of it.'"
Through it all, Morris has managed to stay true to his roots. In fact, he still drives the 1991 Mazda 626 that he picked up as a junior at Florida Atlantic.
"It has some sentimental value to it now," Morris told the Redskins' website. "It just keeps me grounded, where I came from and all the hard work for me to get to this point. So that's what helps me."