WSU Cougars

RB Jamal Morrow remains a positive force for Cougars

Washington State running back Jamal Morrow (25) runs with the ball Sunday against Eastern Washington. Morrow has been the Cougars lone captain dating to last season.
Washington State running back Jamal Morrow (25) runs with the ball Sunday against Eastern Washington. Morrow has been the Cougars lone captain dating to last season. The Associated Press

How hard is the Washington State football team taking its recent loss to Eastern Washington?

On Monday, during the team’s weekly press conference, running back Jamal Morrow was only slightly exuberant.

Morrow, the team’s lone captain since early last season, is without question the most relentlessly positive Cougar. He’s so buoyant that when he appeared on the TV game show The Price Is Right before his freshman season, it barely looked forced when he ran onstage, jumped on host Drew Carey in a running back’s best approximation of a tackle, and chest bumped him after.

Even Morrow needed a couple days to recoup after WSU’s second straight season-opening loss to a Big Sky opponent. But his natural liveliness has been an antidote for teammates stuck in a worse malaise.

“He just brings a positive energy to life,” running backs coach Jim Mastro said. “As much as it hurts him, as much as we’re all down in the dumps, he’s able to move on to the next one. And that’s what we have to do is move on to the next one.”

As a kid, Morrow was always getting sent to the principal’s office for talking in class. During parent-teacher conferences, his grade school instructors called him a “social butterfly” for lack of a better term.

“I wasn’t a bad troublemaker, but my teachers were always, ‘Shhh shh shh,’ ” Morrow said.

Morrow was never one to get into much trouble. He likes to make friends with everybody and collects inside jokes like currency. So it was a surprise and disappointment to his mom, Mastro and himself earlier this year when he got into some actual trouble.

After leaving a party during the early hours of Sunday, Jan. 16, Morrow was pulled over by police after driving the wrong way down a one-way street. Morrow, who was not yet 21 at the time, failed a field sobriety test and subsequently registered a breathalyzer reading of .186, more than twice the legal limit for adults.

The arresting officer made special note of how cooperative Morrow was. The following Monday, he tweeted “Learn from your mistakes and use it as a tool to become a better person.”

Mastro, Morrow and his mom had a talk the day after his arrest. They were disappointed in him. So was he.

“It was really a bad decision,” Morrow said recently. “I try to be responsible, but wasn’t responsible at the same time. It was an eye-opener. You learn from it, and I won’t let it happen again. It was a disappointment for me and my family to have to go through that.”

The acceptance and contrition Morrow showed following his arrest relieved Mastro. That the running back was once again the team’s captain in its opener against EWU shows the amount of respect he still has in the WSU locker room and coaches’ offices.

“It was disappointing. But also, with him, when someone says they made a mistake, he just made a mistake. It’s not like there’s an issue there,” Mastro said. “With some kids you don’t look at it like that, but with him it was a mistake. We learned from it and moved on.”