Gearing Up: Jacob Huerta

HARLINGEN — Jacob Huerta is 5-foot-9, weighs 190 pounds and is an eighth grader at Vernon Middle School.

He has some high aspirations.

Jacob wants to play in the National Football League.

The hard-working, self-described team player recently took his first step toward reaching that lofty goal.

He has been named an EPS All American and will compete against some of the best middle school players in all of the country in a bowl game set for New Orleans in mid-June.

“I am excited to be able to get out and represent South Texas and be able to see how I rank among the best in the country,” Jacob said. “This game is an opportunity of a lifetime and I am excited to be a part of it.”

Jacob was selected as one of about 100 out of more than 5,000 applicants throughout the United States.

His uncle, David Gonzalez, also of Harlingen and a coach, nominated him for the “elite” all star bowl game.

He had to compile information about Jacob along with a highlight video and submit his school grades. Jacob didn’t know his uncle had nominated him.

“When I got the email he was chosen, I went to school and they brought him to the office,” David said. “I told him. It was pretty special; he had tears in his eyes and was very excited.”

Jacob has been playing football since he was 7 years old and for the past few years, David has helped coach him.

Along with competing against some of the best middle school players in the country, Jacob also will be exposed to scouts from 250 of the top universities and be included in databases of future young stars of the game.

At this age, the quiet defensive tackle names his favorite teams based on uniform colors — stating he would like Oregon or Texas Tech to have interest in him.

“They have the best jerseys,” he said about Oregon.

But David knows this opportunity is much more than that for Jacob.

“Here in the Rio Grande Valley, Division 1 seems like it’s a million miles away,” he said. “Something you only see on TV.”

This trip, which will be Jacob’s first out of the state of Texas and his first on a plane, could show the possibilities for many athletes in the area.

“When you can get the boys out of here and show that they can actually do something, where they can get out and see it and talk to college recruits and NFL players, that is something,” David said.

It allows the local kids to experience a taste of what college football may be like, especially because many RGV families don’t have the opportunity to go up to Austin to see the University of Texas play or Waco for the Baylor squad.

“This way, they see, it’s in their grasp and they can shoot for that goal,” David said. “It’s not like they are shooting for space.”

Right now, Jacob is doing everything he can to reach his goal — working out every day on his agility and strength.

“For this to be his opportunity in eighth grade, it is going to be a good deal for him,” David said. “But it’s also a big deal for other kids in the Valley to see he is doing it.”