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After three straight losses of more than 30 points, the Weber State University football team hasn’t had much to celebrate. But last week, senior linebacker Anthony Morales quietly entered the record books, moving into the top 10 in WSU history in total career tackles.
Morales needed just six tackles in Saturday’s game against McNeese State University to pass Scott Shields, who played for the Wildcats in 1995-98. Morales needs nine tackles in this week’s game to pass former teammate Nick Webb for ninth on the career list. With an average of 9.2 tackles per game so far this season, Morales currently sits at 279 total career tackles.
“I haven’t really been paying much attention to it, because it is all individual stuff,” Morales said. “It’s an honor to be in the top 10, but right now, at this point of the season, I’m more worried about wins and losses and getting back on track for conference play.”
Colton Swan, the linebacker coach for WSU, has been with Morales all five years he has been with the program. He praised Morales’ instincts to find the player with the ball.
“With Anthony, and all the linebackers that I coach, it’s all about a mentality,” Swan said. “At the end of the day, it’s all about getting to the ball — effort, hustle and pursuit. To be a good linebacker is training your eyes to tell your feet what to do. Once you see it with your eyes, you can react and get to the ball.”
Head coach Jody Sears has been praising Morales since the start of training camp. Sears said Morales is one of the main vocal leaders who has emerged in his time at WSU.
“He has done a tremendous job of being a leader and being the voice of encouragement and the voice of motivation for our football team,” Sears said. “He has really set the standard of getting the team to buy in and commit and be selfless. He’s the epitome of it right now. He’s awesome. He’s a really good football player. He’s a good linebacker.”
Morales was ranked third in the nation last season, averaging 12 tackles per game. He was named to the College Football Performance Awards Watch List for the 2013 season.
“He loves tackling people and throwing them to the ground,” Sears said. “He’s really good at it. He’s strong, he’s fast, he’s instinctive. He’s what you want. I’m so glad that he’s on our football team and that he’s our captain. The growth and the maturity that he’s made from a year ago until now is really, really positive. He’s going to be a real success wherever he ends up.”
Sears said over the offseason that Morales is a student of the game. Swan noted that Morales understands the game of football and is able to execute because of it.
“It’s heart. It’s a want to,” Swan said. “You got to be able to make plays from sideline to sideline. Fortunately, Anthony has been able to do that for us for five years now. He runs to the ball very well. He understands angles. He can tackle on the sideline, he can tackle down the field. He gets tackles for loss. He’s a kid that triggers. That’s one thing that’s helped him in achieving that many career tackles.”
The record holder for most tackles is Danny Rich. He totaled 450 tackles in his time with WSU in the late ’70s and early ’80s. The record is most likely out of reach for Morales, but Morales would need just 76 more tackles to move into the all-time second place. To do that, he would need to average 9.5 tackles per game in the final eight games of the season.
Morales had just one tackle in the game against the University of Utah, having sat out the majority of the game.