(Source: Anthony Morales) Former Weber State University linebacker Anthony Morales signed with the Carolina Panthers on Thursday.
Two months ago, former Weber State University linebacker Anthony Morales was invited to participate in the Carolina Panthers' rookie camp. Morales said that he felt he did well at the camp, but the Panthers ended up not offering him a contract.
"They were already full at linebacker," Morales said. "So they told me, ‘We really like you,' but I didn't get a deal with them."
Morales spent the next month talking with other NFL teams, as well as teams in the Canadian Football League. He said that he had a couple of opportunities to play in the CFL, but he waited to see if he could get a deal with an NFL team.
That deal came through this week for Morales, as he signed a three-year rookie contract with the Carolina Panthers on Thursday.
"I was actually enrolling into Weber on Wednesday, when I got the call from the Panthers," Morales said. "My agent told me that they wanted to sign me, and to pack up and head out to (North) Carolina immediately."
(Source: Weber State Athletics) Anthony Morales in a game for Weber State University during the 2012 season. Morales led the team that season with 108 total tackles.
The call from his agent woke him up on Wednesday morning, and at first, he said he didn't fully realize what was happening.
"I didn't really know what was going on. I was kind of delirious at first," Morales said. "But once I realized what he said, I was pretty stoked and surprised, and I packed up and headed out to (North) Carolina the next day."
Morales was named the team's Defensive MVP last year, after finishing the season third in the Big Sky Conference averaging 10 tackles per game. With 342 career total tackles, Morales ranks fifth in Weber State history. He also ranks third all-time with 210 assisted tackles, the first Wildcat to finish his career with 200 or more assisted tackles since Joe DiPoalo (234 assisted tackles from 1982-83).
"He's a very good, instinctive linebacker," former WSU football coach Jody Sears said. "He's got great instincts and he's got good speed, and he's really, really tough."
For Sears, Morales is yet another one of his former athletes to get into the NFL or the CFL. And just like with all of his former players, Sears is happy that Morales is getting his shot.
(Source: Weber State Athletics) Anthony Morales (44) playing during the Wildcats' 2013 season opener against Stephen F. Austin State University.
"You can compare it to being a proud parent. You're so proud of them and so happy for them, because you know how hard they work, how much they've sacrificed," Sears said. "I can't be more proud for Anthony and the Weber State community."
Wildcats senior defensive tackle Connor Myers has known Morales since they both attended Edmond Memorial High School in Edmond, Oklahoma. Myers said that Morales was a great teammate and a vocal leader within the team. When Myers heard about Morales signing with the Panthers, he said he was excited for his former teammate.
"I've kind of grown up around him, we went to the same high school," Myers said. "I know it has always been his dream, so I was extremely excited to hear he got the opportunity to play with the Panthers."
Morales' journey to the NFL began on Friday, when he joined the Panthers at their home field, Bank of America Stadium, for the team's first practice of the preseason. On Saturday, Morales and the Panthers traveled to Wofford College, where the team will hold its training camp for the next couple weeks before preseason games start.
"We have our first preseason game against the Buffalo Bills on August 8," Morales said. "I feel good. I have a lot to learn. I've got to learn the plays and get comfortable with the scheme, but I feel confident that I will."
Morales still has obstacles to pass before he makes it to the regular season with the Panthers. Throughout training camp and the preseason, the Panthers will make roster cuts, as they put together their squad for the season. Sears felt confident that Morales would have a shot at making the final squad.
"He's a great kid, he's a really good football player, and I hope nothing but the best," Sears said. "And I won't be surprised if he makes the squad."
As Morales works his way through training camp and the preseason, he says that what he has been able to accomplish to this point is because of his time playing for the Wildcats.
"What I've learned at Weber has helped me become a stronger person, work harder for what I want," Morales said. "A lot of people knock Division 1AA schools, or that we haven't been winning in the past, but it just shows that if you put your mind to it, that you can make it at any level wherever you are."
(Source: Weber State Athletics)