Virtual tryouts offer NFL scouts chance to evaluate kickers during COVID
Thanks to SI.com and Eric D. Williams for the article! _________________
SAN DIEGO -- Ali Mourtada always considered himself an underdog.
Mourtada grew up in Foxboro, Mass. Out of high school, he earned the starting kicking job at Division II Pace University and later attended Assumption College for grad school, where he served as the kickoff specialist.
“I always felt like I had potential,” Mourtada said. “Really, I just had a dream and I felt like I can do it.”
Mourtada took a leap of faith after college, moving to Arizona in 2013 to train. He leans on his departed friend and former Pace University teammate D.J. Henry for motivation and inspiration. Henry was shot and killed by police in New York on Oct. 17, 2010, an incident Mourtada witnessed.
“That’s when my life changed,” Mourtada said. “I always thought I wanted to play professional football, but once one of my good friend’s life was taken so quickly, it was a lot. And it put life into perspective. I was like, if I’m going to do this, I have to put my whole soul into this because I don’t know when life is going to be taken. That’s kind of been the driving factor.”
Mourtada’s been grinding for seven years trying to get a look. On this day, he’s the best kicker on the field among seven at Maranatha high school’s football field -- a small, private Christian school just north of San Diego.