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October 17, 2012
For most of Christian Morris' life, kids in Memphis have challenged him.
And for a long time, Morris obliged. He would fight, and scrap, and fight some more.
Most of that ended when the four-star offensive lineman took up football two years ago.
And now that he's a U.S. Army All-American, it's really done.
"A lot of guys are trying to get at me in the city," said Morris, who grew up and still lives in a tough Memphis neighborhood. "But I have to keep my composure in the games."
Of course he does. His future is riding on it now.
Morris, a 6-foot-6, 293-pound tackle, is committed to UCLA. He's the No. 126-ranked player in the nation, the No. 3-ranked player in Tennessee and the No. 12-rated tackle in the country.
All of that led him to Wednesday, when the big lineman received his U.S. Army All-American Bowl jersey at a ceremony in his Memphis East High School.
But with all of that praise, and with that huge honor, he's earned much more responsibility. Now, when players get in his face or try to pick a fight, he turns away -- something he didn't always do when he was younger.
"A lot of them are trying to fight me in the game or get me injured; all that type of stuff," Morris said. "There are still some people out there that are trying to test me. But you know, I'm just doing me."
The Army All-American Bowl was one of Morris' goals. So when he landed the call, he chose the game over several other prestigious national all-star games.
And when his family found out, particularly his grandmother, who has taken care of him for most of his life, they were just as thrilled as he was.
"They were very excited about me making this game," Morris said. "(My grandmother) yelled, as usual. "It means a lot. It means that I've actually put in all the work and that really hard work pays off. It still inspires me to go harder and harder. It also gives me a chance to get the feel of what college is going to be like amidst all this competition."
Where he'll get real college competition is just about the only thing left that Morris needs to figure out in his life.
While he's tentatively postponed all of his visits until after Dec. 2, he said, he's going to have to make a final decision at some point in the next couple months.
"I'm just keeping an open mind," Morris said. "That's all."
For now, though, the only thing on that open mind is the bowl game and the elation of accepting the challenge that comes with it.
"When other athletes had gone into the game, it was like something very huge," Morris said. "I feel that game means a lot. It means that you're a high quality athlete and you put in the work over the summer time and everything in order to showcase your skills."
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