It was a long road to prepare for his Senior year at Bellevue High School. And Ari Morales knew he could be a big part of the Wolverines 2012 season as they tried to win their 5th Washington State Championship in a row. He hit camps and clinics and the weights and more.
As Summer wore on everything was settling in for a nice Senior season and a run at a collegiate career. Then before he knew what hit him he was injured and out with a horrendous knee injury. The kind that cause most guys to hang up their cleats all together.
But Ari never seemed to accept the fact that he was done. He was seen at ever team function and practice. He was there in crutches on the sidelines as the Wolverines opened the season against Nationally touted Euless-Trinity of Texas and won. Ari cheered them all the way.
At season end he had undergone surgery and found a way to come all the way back into a Wolverine Jersey. #25 was alive in the Tacoma Dome and the Senior TB/DB/Athlete led the cheers and the support from the sideline. He dressed down but was not able to play.
Bellevue one over East Side Catholic and Morales was among the first to do the Victory dance. He was relentless in his pursuit of being the best player and team mate that he could be and his efforts were certainly noteworthy.
After seeing all of that it was no surprise to hear from him that his return to the field was not going to be his last. It turns out Montana was watching as well and figuring out a way to get Morales to Missoula to play for them next season. And he came to terms with the Grizzlies this week and announced his intentions to play for them next year.
How did this all happen considering he was out all year?
“Well I have been in communication with U of Montana for while. And they have really been with me through this whole process. They were limited with scholarships because of some things that happened. But my recruiting Coach emailed me a couple of days ago. And we just talked about what my role would or could be there,” said Ari.
What position did the Grizzlies see him fitting into?
“They want me for running back Coach said they would use me how Oregon uses De’Anthony Thomas. He told me that they really love me as a player and he wants me in his back field.”
Without a scholarship to give Ari had to think about the offer at hand. To be a preferred walk on.
“So I am going to Montana as a preferred walk on. But he told me not to worry about it because they would likely give me a scholarship within my first month I am there. He also told me I could get a lot of playing time,” added Morales.
Would he Red shirt or have a chance to compete early?
Ari went on, “The coaching staff is going to decide once I get there if they are going to red shirt me or play me as a true freshman. It’s huge for my family too. My dad and I were training for this since I was in middle school and they have all really wanted this for me. This all feels like a blessing since a lot of schools stopped talking to me because of the injury.”
Ari had a great Junior year for the Wolverines and he had a host of schools after him during the Spring. Most of them Big Sky Schools. After the injury just Montana remained.
“Every school that passed me up will see what happens. Because nobody will work as hard as me. Montana believed in me through this whole thing. And I feel like this is redemption to make up for missing my Senior year. God has truly blessed me and I am thankful for the coaching staff at Montana.”
Overall he loves this fit and is thankful to be able to join a program like Montana.
“It felt like I lost my opportunity to play at the next level but now that I have that opportunity to play I’m all smiles,” he concluded. ”Go Grizz.”
There is little doubt that a kid like Ari will make it. It is just a matter of how soon really. We wish him the very best and know that like a lot of kids still looking that all he needed and wanted was a chance. The Grizzlies gave that to him and are picking up a special kid.