When former Ferriday standout Shannon Morales left the Grambling football team three years ago to take care of his first daughter, he never thought he would be back on the football playing field.
Morales was red-shirted his first season at Grambling in 2015.
Morales quit the team to go to work at different prisons to support his family. He continued taking classes at a junior college.
"Every prison I worked at told me to go back to school and play football," Morales said.
But it took a tragedy for Morales to return to school and football.
A year ago, Morales' best friend since elementary school, DaJohn Mitchell, was shot and killed at a Jonesville nightclub.
"My 'brother' loved football, so after that happened I decided to go back to school," Morales said.
With help from his former head coach at Ferriday -- Cleothis Cummings -- Morales was able to enroll at Hutchinson Community College in Kansas.
"Coach Cummings got in touch with (Hutchinson assistant coach) Alfred Davis." Morales said. "Coach Davis told me he could get me on, but I had to walk on. I've been practicing with the team."
Davis said Morales is basically a red-shirt this year. He will sign with Hutchinson in the spring.
I'm learning the plays and have been working with the team," he said.
Davis said Morales has been impressive in practices.
"The offensive coaches are raving about him," Davis said. "It will be interesting to see his physicality once he's able to get back to game situations. He has a good chance to play next year, especially special teams. Shannon is hungry. He was overwhelmed by everything at Grambilng, but he took the time to step back and work everything out. We're excited about him being here."
Morales played several positions for the Trojans, moving from quarterback to receiver.
Morales, a starter on the Trojan basketball team, completed 32 of 65 passes for 892 yards and nine touchdowns with three interceptions.
He also carried the ball 48 times for 539 yards and caught six passes for 122 yards and three touchdowns.
Defensively, Morales had 41 solo tackles and 38 assists and four sacks.
"I'm going to be playing linebacker," Morales said. "I think it gives me an advantage that I played quarterback. I did miss it. My two daughters are what I am doing this for also. I want to put them in a better situation. I just have to do my work. The sky is the limit for me."
The 23-year old Morales said he also has motivation from former Ferriday Trojan Ronald Davis, who is playing cornerback for Hutchinson and has received offers from several major colleges. He visited Alabama and Mississippi State the past two weeks.
The 6-foot-1, 215-pound Morales said
"I think it may have helped me a bit to sit out, step back and took a look at where I was," Morales said. "I'm more mature now. I'm very excited and very happy."
Morales said he knows he has something to prove to a lot of people.
"But especially to myself," he said. "I know I can play at that level. I'm going to keep working and focusing on school work."
Morales, who is majoring in Kineosology, will graduate from college next December.
Morales will have only one request once he signs.
"I'd like to be No. 11," he said. "That was DaJohn's number. I want to honor him."