“Its been fun,” said La Feria’s Brandon Perez as he thought back upon the college recruitment process that he was part of over the past two years.
“It’s been fun going to camps, meeting new people and learning from these experiences. I was amazed at the amount of schools that had contacted me and I started to ask myself, ‘why would they want me?’”
In the end, a total of 30 schools expressed interest in signing Perez. From major Division I programs to small Division III schools, they all saw the potential many had seen in Perez.
As a freshman, he had impressed his coaches enough to earn a call up to the varsity team. And under the Friday night lights he dazzled the La Feria Lion faithful as he ran past opposing defenses to score touchdown after touchdown.
Now, after four years of varsity football, he sat between his parents and watched as La Feria head football coach Oscar Salinas gave a few words on his signing day.
“I won’t forget those days when he would play in the 7-on-7 tournaments and he would beat those kids from up state and everybody would be amazed because they couldn’t cover him,” said Salinas of Perez.
“He’s one of those kids that you get once in a lifetime. He’s not a kid that talks a lot, but he leads by example. By him being at practice everyday, it made everything easier for us because everybody sees the best player on the team working hard so there wasn’t an excuse for the other players not to work hard.
“He’s got that IT factor that you can’t explain. But with that comes the attitude, hard work and commitment that you need. We’re going to miss him a lot, but at the same time I think he’s showed what our program is all about.”
Perhaps the greatest advice Perez received about the recruiting process was to stay humble and to be realistic. It’s those words that kept the senior’s feet planted firmly to the ground while programs like LSU, SMU, the University of Houston and UCLA came calling.
Perez didn’t let the glitz of those NCAA Division I programs blind him from the fact that if they didn’t come prepared to give him a full scholarship, he wasn’t going to take them seriously.
And while his first official visit was to RiceUniversity, ultimately the choice was Southern Nazarene University. While coaches were trying to push him to go to a bigger school, in the end it was a small Division II school from Oklahoma that won him over.
Salinas explained that Perez’s choice was always going to be a small school. Even after visiting bigger universities, all he would talk about was a small school setting.
Like many others signing to play football at the next level, Perez’s ultimate goal is the NFL and he realized the best opportunity for that would be to get immediate playing time.
SEEING BEYOND THE FOOTBALL: While everybody might know Perez by his football and track accolades, not many know the other side of him, which includes being a motivational speaker. A part of him that keeps him grounded to reality and a part of him that his mother knows all too well.
“Brandon volunteers his time as a motivational speaker by sharing positive words of encouragement to young athletes and foster children,” said Brandon’s mother, Elizabeth. “He teaches kids how to reach their goals in life by being a positive role model in their classrooms. Brandon is a superstar in his community by completing a Physician Assistant Internship to get a better idea on how to lead a healthy generation for young athletes.”
Doing so has taught Perez to treasure the small things.
“Being a motivational speaker has taught me to appreciate things in life,” he said. “Seeing these kids keeps me humble and it hits me and breaks me down a lot.
“Everybody sees the picture of me, but what they don’t see is my family, friends, teachers and coaches that have helped me throughout the process.”