Reporters’ notebook: Raheem Morris doesn’t plan Falcons culture overhaul

Atlanta Falcons head coach Raheem Morris speaks to the media during minicamp at the Atlanta Falcons Training Camp, Tuesday, May 14, 2024, in Flowery Branch, Ga. (Jason Getz / AJC)

Credit: Jason Getz/AJC

Credit: Jason Getz/AJC

Atlanta Falcons head coach Raheem Morris speaks to the media during minicamp at the Atlanta Falcons Training Camp, Tuesday, May 14, 2024, in Flowery Branch, Ga. (Jason Getz / AJC)

The following, a weekly feature of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, allows our reporters to open their notebooks and provide even more information from our local teams that we cover daily. We think you’ll find it informative, insightful and fun.

Morris doesn’t plan a culture overhaul

Falcons coach Raheem Morris had an interesting take when asked about rebuilding the culture and image of the team.

“Hard to say that you’re remaking a culture,” Morris said. “The culture here is really well put together from the top down from ownership. Because I’m not changing what we do when it comes to ideas and innovating and people-first mentality and some of those type of things.”

Usually, when a new coach comes in, there is a tear-down of the former regime’s work.

“So, I’m not going to do that, but we are adding to it,” Morris said. “I think it’s really important when you come and be a part of a culture, that you add to the culture. I want to bring a different vibe into this room, I want to bring a different vibe into our team.”

Morris spoke of the front office and the football side being in the same room and fighting in the same direction.

“To say that you’re bringing in a whole new culture, I would never say the Arthur Smith culture was bad, for me it was his style and his technique,” Morris said. “How he wanted to do things, and now it’s just changing what we want to do.”

Common goal is to win a Super Bowl

Falcons running back Avery Williams is a big fan of Morris.

“He’s great,” Williams said. “Just to see how he interacts with myself, players and coaches. Obviously, there is hierarchy on the team. He is the head coach. He doesn’t seem like wanting to use that in terms of what level you’re on. He has the common goal of winning the Super Bowl like everyone on this team has.”

Self-improvement is the theme of the offseason.

“He wants to make every single player, every single coach the best version of themselves,” Williams said. “Whatever your best assets are, your best skills, he’s going to push everyone in that direction.”

The locker-room chatter has been positive, too.

“Just talking amongst the guys, the new guys and guys who’ve been here before, we’re not only grateful not only for coach Morris but the staff that he’s brought in,” Williams said. “It’s really a special dynamic that we have here.”

Georgia Tech’s Burress a Golden Spikes Award semifinalist

Georgia Tech freshman outfielder Drew Burress has been named a semifinalist for the Golden Spikes Award.

Burress joins 25 players as a semifinalist. He is one of seven players from the ACC and is the only freshman on the list. The Golden Spikes Award honors the top amateur baseball player in the country.

Already a semifinalist for the Dick Howser Trophy and previously named the ACC freshman of the year, Burress went into this week’s ACC tournament hitting a team-best .379 with 14 doubles, two triples and 22 home runs with 62 RBIs. With an OPS of 1.311, he was slugging .803 with an on-base percentage of .508, having drawn more walks (51) than strikeouts (33). He also had eight stolen bases and nine assists from center field – tying the program record for most single-season assists by an outfielder.

Going into the week, Burress led all freshmen in six statistical categories (home runs, home runs per game, slugging, total bases, walks, and walks per game), while ranking in the top three nationally in 11 categories.

The winner of the 46th Golden Spikes Award will be named June 22.

Lamprecht Named Finalist for Jack Nicklaus Award

Tech’s Christo Lamprecht is among five finalists who were named for the 2024 NCAA Division I Jack Nicklaus National Player of the Year Award. It is the third national player of the year award for which the Yellow Jacket senior has been named a finalist.

He joins Luke Clanton of Florida State, Nick Gabrelcik of North Florida, Jackson Koivun of Auburn and Michael Thorbjornsen of Stanford. The winner will be announced by Nicklaus on June 4 during his annual Memorial press conference.

The senior from George, South Africa already has been named the winner of the 2024 Byron Nelson Award, which is awarded to the nation’s top senior golfer based on four years of accomplishment on the golf course, academic performance, and service to the community. The 2024 ACC Player of the Year, Lamprecht also was a finalist for the Ben Hogan Award, which went to Koivun on Monday, and remains a finalist for the Fred Haskins Award, which will be announced Monday.

-Staff writers D. Orlando Ledbetter and Chad Bishop contributed to this report.