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Z-hills' Morrison aiming for Naval Academy

Special correspondent
Published:   |   Updated: March 19, 2013 at 01:42 AM
ZEPHYRHILLS -

Joel Morrison, more than anything else, wants to be a Navy SEAL.

Not a college football player or student reminiscing about his glory days, but a Naval Academy Midshipman ready to serve his country at a moment's notice.

"I'm not just about athletics," said Morrison, who is a 5-foot-10, 180-pound senior lineman that had 54 tackles and a sack in 2011 and has been a varsity player since he was a sophomore. "I want to do more for America and to do something with my life. Being a Navy SEAL is a dream of mine, and people might laugh at it because they put you through hell, but nothing really compares to it."

Morrison will, once again, be turned to help the Zephyrhills High football team stay competitive at the top of a crowded Class 5A-District 6 and avenge missing the playoffs despite the 7-3 turnaround season. But once that's done, Morrison will focus getting into the Naval Academy, which is not easy. Of the 20,000 that look to apply, only about 8,000 finish the application, then only about 1,000 are actually accepted.

"It's a pretty big process," Morrison said. "You have to get a congressional nomination from a senator, which means you have to be good enough."

Morrison has already had a taste thanks to a visit and getting to try the Academy's obstacle course. He said it was a tough, humbling experience, but that's what makes Morrison a leader, according to coach Reggie Roberts.

"He just wants to serve and everyone looks up to him," Roberts said. "He's the epitome of a leader and a machine. He's the first and last one out of the weight room, a guy who works with and for this team. If there's one guy that has a presidency for this team, it's Jo-Jo."

There's more to Morrison than football, shown with his 4.0 GPA and community work with his church. Then again, more than anything else, he wants to give back to his country.

"You've got to work hard and lead by example," Morrison said. "I know that's the best way -- has to be. To be a leader, you know some kids are going to be scared, so you have to be fearless and not worry about the odds. You give it, no matter what it is, everything you got."

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