Army an "eye-opening" offer for McMorris

Army has extended an offer to Malik McMorris, who was recently selected as Sports Illustrated’s first High School Athlete of the Month. The 5-foot-11, 292-pound defensive tackle was a three-year starter at Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) High School.

"It was right before our first playoff game with Westlake when I received the Army offer," McMorris told ArmySports.com. "I talked that Monday with Coach Saturnio for the first time and in a span of four or five days I was offered. The first thing he talked about was the character I showed and that I'm the type of guy who would fit well at the Academy with the discipline and everything that comes with West Point. Although I'm a shorter guy, I show a lot of versatility, athletic ability, and my motor never shuts off. He said although I'm a bit undersized, he truly believes I can come in and compete in high D-1 football.

"Coach Saturnio was telling me that he's part of the new coaching staff that came in (at Army) this year. They're in the process of changing the program around in a whole different direction and expect to see results in the near future for the better. I always thought that part of serving would be infantry service but that's not necessary the case. I'm learning now that there are other options to go into. It really opened my eyes to the idea of West Point after talking with Coach Saturnio."

McMorris matured at a young age helping to care for his mother, Lucy Guerrero Martinez, in her battle with breast cancer. She passed away last January at the tender age of 39. At her encouragement, McMorris took up throwing shot put and discuss and has become one of the top throwers in state of California. He says he's not looking to give up the sport anytime soon.

"I've told the colleges recruiting me that I'd like very much to play both football and track and field in college," he said. "They're cool with it which is a good thing because I can't see giving up either one. I have three offers for football from Army, Holy Cross, and Azusa Pacific. They don't have any problem with me pursing track and field. UC-Davis offered for track but I'm starting to hear more from them for football.

"I'm going to be setting up my visits soon. I know I'll be going to Holy Cross in Massachusetts to get a feel for what it's like at a smaller college. I haven't talked yet with Coach Saturnio about visiting Army but I didn't see why I wouldn't. I've never been to New York and want to see what it's like.

"In making a college decision, I'm basing it on academics. I want my diploma to be a eye-catcher to employers. Some of the colleges recruiting me like Army, Cal, Holy Cross are prestigious academically and can take me a long way in life. I'd like to stay on the west coast, but I'm not going to turn down the best opportunity I have because of location. I can always come back home after four or five years."

McMorris had a break-out junior season at Mater Dei last year when he was named co-Trinity League defensive MVP and a first-team all-CIF. He said all of the recognition caught him by surprise at the beginning.

"I guess the stats were there," he said, in regards to his big junior performance, "but I wasn't expecting all the accolades to come my way. It was a testament to having 13 sacks on the season. This year, my sack numbers are down to four or five after facing a lot of double-teams. I guess the word got out that I'm a threat, but I still had some big games. I had nine sacks against St. John Bosco, the number one team in the country, and a big game against JSerra Catholic. In three years, I haven't missed a start. I've really improved on my reads and picking up on the tendencies of the blockers. Although I don't have the same stats as last year, I feel like I'm a much more polished player."

In January, McMorris will play in the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl in Carson, Calif. He'll then turn his attention to helping his track and field team to a second state championship. Last season, McMorris finished fourth overall in both shot put and discuss in the state finals, but gave Mater Dei the point total they needed to secure a state championship with his final throw in the shot put.

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