Jimmy Morrissey already has a pretty good idea of what he wants to do when he's done with college.

"Hopefully I’m going to follow in the coaching path with my family," the St. Ambrose senior linebacker said. "I love the game of football so I want to stay in it any way I can."

It's not surprising coaching is the likely next step for Morrissey.

His father, Ed, was head coach at Pleasant Valley for 28 years, 177 wins and a state title. His oldest brother, Mike, is in his first year as head coach with Moline, while his other brother, Joe, is back as an assistant coach at Kansas Wesleyan after serving as the head coach at United Township for one season.

It might cause some families to be footballed out. For the Morrisseys, it is just a way of life. 

"Growing up around it, it was just the normal thing to do," said Mike, 12 years Jimmy's elder. "Every time football season comes around your expectations are to go to football games and be around the team and the coaches and their game planning, and to see the time and effort they put in to do that, how rewarding it is on a Friday night.

"For us, I think it was only natural for us to want to jump right into it."

Before Jimmy starts pacing the sidelines with a headset or a clipboard, he's focused on roaming the middle of the field as St. Ambrose prepares to open the season this week at home against Dakota State.

The youngest Morrissey has grown each year with the Fighting Bees. He played in three games as a sophomores and played in nine games last year, recording 28 tackles, three for a loss and one sack.

The progression has been a product of the hard work put in. Morrissey earned all-conference honors his senior year of high school with Pleasant Valley as one of the leaders of the defense, and then worked to discover that same role in the St. Ambrose defense.

"Jimmy is Mr. Dependable," St. Ambrose head coach Mike Magistrelli said. "You watch him develop over his time with us, he’s a guy that just goes about his business, goes about his work, whether it’s in the weight room, the classroom or the practice field ... he’s a leader in every sense of the word."

Of course, you don't have to go far to see where Morrissey gets those attributes. Not when Sunday dinner involves a family of coaches.

"It’s always an experience, especially at the dinner table," Jimmy said. "I’ll go there, if I made a mistake in the game, they’ll let me have it but then they’ll coach me up too. I’m very fortunate to have that."

Now as a senior, the 6-foot, 210-pound Morrissey is expected to take on an even larger role for the Bees.

With the team moving all-conference linebacker Chris Overton to defensive line, Morrissey will be a big part of any success St. Ambrose has on the field this year, especially in the 4-3 scheme under returning defensive coordinator Vince Fillipp.

"He brings a level of versatility," Magistrelli said. "He’s athletic enough to drop back in pass coverage, but he’s also physical, he’s a big kid that can get in there and really defend the run and do both which you have to do at that inside linebacker spot.

"He certainly is a voice for us we’ll need on the defensive side."

Morrissey knows how special and bittersweet a senior season can be, having seen both his brothers go through the same experience in their careers. It's why he knows not to look too far into the future for fear of missing the present.

"It’s strange because football has been a part of my life growing up," Morrissey said. "It feels like yesterday I got here for the first time, now fast forward, it’s senior year. All I can do is lay it all out on the field, give it my best and give my all for my brothers out here and enjoy the experience."

Once Jimmy takes off his pads for the final time, the Morrissey family will have left quite an impact at St. Ambrose. Joe played wide receiver and was a student assistant while Ed served as a defensive coach for nine seasons after his time with the Spartans.

It's a great example of the culture that is prevalent in the program, even when the results may not show up in the win-loss column.

"One of the things we pride ourselves on over the years here at St. Ambrose is stability in terms of high expectations, that’s exactly what the Morrisseys are all about," Magistrelli said. "That consistency, knowing day in and day out what you’re going to get, they kind of bleed football. That’s their livelihood, and they all love the game but they all go about things the right way.

"I have the utmost success from Ed all down, the whole Morrissey family is a first-class family."

And that family might end up being a staple on the Moline sideline for years to come if Mike Morrissey has his way.

"We can always make room for (Jimmy)," he said. "If we can get it worked out to get him over to Moline, that would be a huge bonus, not only for our football program but for our school district and community because I know what type of young man he is. That would be pretty awesome if that could happen."


Sports reporter for the Quad-City Times