The Texans officially signed center Jimmy Morrissey to a one-year exclusive rights tender, according to a league source not authorized to speak publicly.
The former Las Vegas Raiders seventh-round draft pick played in five games with four starts for the Texans when veteran center Justin Britt was sidelined.
A former Pitt walk-on and Burlsworth Trophy award winner, Morrissey was signed off of the Raiders' practice squad to the Texans' active roster.
“It’s been a dream come true,” Morrissey said during the season.. “Ever since I was a little kid, I wanted to be a starting center in the NFL."
The Texans see a lot of potential in Morrissey, who was a three-time All-Atlantic Coast Conference selection, a four-time all-academic selection and a 47-game starter at Pitt.
Britt is a pending unrestricted free agent.
The early reviews on Morrissey were encouraging from his teammates.
“Jimmy’s a good dude,” veteran defensive tackle Maliek Collins said. “He was always, even before this opportunity presented itself to him. He was in there giving great looks. Gritty, tough guy, I like him a lot.”
Morrissey recently received the Burlsworth Trophy that goes to the most outstanding college football player who began their career as a walk-on. A 6-foot-4, 305-pounder who was an All-Catholic League and All-City selection in Philadelphia, Morrissey chose to be a preferred walk-on at Pitt over scholarship offers form Lehigh, Bucknell and Colgate. He earned a scholarship after enrolling at Pitt.
The Burlsworth Trophy is named after the late Indianapolis Colts offensive guard Brandon Burlsworth, a former walk-on at Arkansas who earned a scholarship and became a consensus All-American. Burlsworth was killed in a car accident on April 28, 1999 in Alpena, Arkansas 11 days after he was drafted.
“I was happy to go back to Pittsburgh and finally meet with the Burlsworth family in person,” Morrissey said. “The Burlsworth Trophy is a special award, just because it obviously remembers Brandon Burlsworth and such an amazing but tragic story he had.
“It really honors walk-ons all across the country. It’s a tough battle to get a scholarship and play and have a successful career in college. I was really fortunate and that’s an important award to me that I will always remember. It was pretty cool to me going back home.”
Aaron Wilson is a Pro Football Network reporter and analyst and a contributor to Sports Talk 790.