DALTON >> There might have been a time while Cole Morrison was rehabilitating a torn ACL in his left knee that he had to think his college football dream could be dashed. Not only was his dream not dashed, it is now reality.
Morrison, who graduates from Wahconah in June, will be a preferred walk-on at the University of Massachusetts in the fall. He is one of three Massachusetts high school football standouts that received similar offers from head coach Mark Whipple and his staff.
"It's exciting. They've been talking to me since the football season. I just can't wait to get down there," Morrison said in a phone interview Friday afternoon. "It's very exciting news. It just motivates me to get better every day."
Morrison, who played tight end and defensive end for Wahconah, will be joining Waltham's Randy Alay and Marshfield's Adam Tucker as preferred walk-ons.
Alay was a place kicker at Waltham High School, while Tucker played defensive end and tight end at Boston College High School. He is slated to be a linebacker at UMass.
According to a press release from the school, the trio will enroll in classes and join the program prior to the 2016 season.
Whipple is traveling, and was unavailable for comment.
"It's unbelievable to have a kid off of our roster that's going to end up being on the roster of a Division I school," Wahconah coach Gary Campbell Jr. said. "Let's face it, their first game is at the University of Florida. Let's get the helmets ready and get ready to roll.
"It's very gratifying for Cole and for our program at Wahconah."
Morrison was a three-year starter at tight end and defensive end for Wahconah. He did miss the first four games of the 2015 season as he rehabilitated the knee injured in the 2014 Western Massachusetts Division III basketball tournament semifinal round.
Morrison caught four passes in 2015 for 90 yards and two touchdown. He had two catches for 51 yards in the regular-season finale against West Springfield.
In his career, Morrison caught 34 passes for 491 yards and 10 touchdowns. He was a standout defensively and was All-State at defensive end for ESPNBoston.com. He had 113 tackles and 11 sacks at defensive end.
Morrison told The Eagle that Connecticut had talked to him until the injury, and some smaller schools had expressed interest.
"The whole time, I was trying to get on UMass' boat," he said. "After football season, one of their coaches [assistant Tom Masella] kept in contact with me and it played out through there."
Of the three tight ends listed on last year's season-ending depth chart, only redshirt senior A.J. Doyle returns. Morrison will be one of four freshman tight ends on the UMass roster in the fall.
"I think they're going to start me out at tight end and see where it goes from there," said Morrison. "They haven't talked to me specifically about that. They've asked me where I see myself playing, and I said tight end.
"They said that's where they see me playing also."
Morrison said he wants to follow in the footsteps of former Wahconah offensive lineman Jared Chivers. Chivers walked on at UMass and eventually started along the offensive line. The undersized lineman was the center when Division I-FCS UMass played at Kansas State.
"I will flat-out tell you, he didn't have to come back for Wahconah Regional High School last year. That was within six months of when he had that knee injury," said Campbell. "He absolutely willed himself and worked himself so that he could help this team.
"I have not talked to Coach Whipple at all, but I think that says something about a young man — I would want a kid like that on my team."
Contact Howard Herman at 413-496-6253.