Sardis senior gets preferred walk-on at Auburn


Photo courtesy of Alex Chaney 

By Shannon J. Allen/Sand Mountain Reporter

Eli Morton became the eighth member of Sardis High School’s class of 2024 to receive an opportunity to compete in college athletics on March 7 when he accepted a preferred walk-on offer to play football for Auburn University.
A first team All-Etowah County Schools and second team Class 5A, All-Region 7 selection at tight end, Morton (pictured above at right) received other offers – including a preferred walk-on from Jacksonville State – before settling on the Tigers. His sister, Allie, is a student at AU.
Morton’s father Ryan played football at Alabama, but his mother Anna is an Auburn graduate.
“No matter what, I was going to Auburn if they offered anything,” Morton said. “It got towards the end of the recruiting process and I was (interested in) South Alabama, JSU, but honestly, I would’ve never thought I would have even considered those two schools over Auburn. I just started praying on it, and then one random morning, I woke up and just knew Auburn was the way to go. They see me playing tight end, but they said that could change. They just want to get me down there and they’ll evaluate me.”
Auburn’s spring roster lists seven tight ends, including seniors Rivaldo Fairweather, Luke Deal and Brandon Frazier. Fairweather led the Tigers with 38 receptions in 2023.
“Obviously, my plan is to play this year, but if not, I’m hoping to at least get redshirted so I kind have that extra year of eligibility,” Morton said. “The Auburn tight end room right now is very senior heavy. I’ve been playing basketball my whole life, and I didn’t play football until seventh grade.”
Morton’s performance on the gridiron helped the 2023 Lions post a 6-4 record, the program’s first winning season since 2017. Morton finished his prep career by catching seven passes for 114 yards and three touchdowns in a 42-20 triumph over Hokes Bluff.
“In football, our goal at the beginning of the year was to make the playoffs,” Morton said. “Unfortunately, we just missed it by three points, probably against Arab, which was a very good team.”
Morton was voted team captain and received the teams’ receiver of the year award. He also received the senior scholar award for having a grade-point average of 4.0 or higher.
In basketball, Morton was selected Class 5A second team All-State in 5A after averaging 15.3 points and 9.9 rebounds per game while helping Sardis set a school single season record with 28 wins. The Lions won the Etowah County Schools Tournament championship, the 5A, Area 13 regular season and tournament titles and gained their first Northeast Regional Tournament berth in 17 years.
“In basketball, our plan since freshman year was to go to Jacksonville (for the regional tournament),” Morton said. “As this season started going, we were like, ‘We can go farther than this.’ And then we got to Jacksonville, and we played a very good Guntersville team.”
Morton thanked his family for the tremendous support they’ve given him throughout his career.
“As far as I know, I’ve had every single one of my grandparents, aunts and uncles at every one of the games. “When you have family that’s there for you, no matter what the situation, that’s how you know they’re going to be there for you in the dark times and in the bright times.”

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