Pace’s Garcia signs with Southwestern

Brownsville Pace senior wide receiver Jaylun Garcia, center, celebrates with his parents at his Brownsville home during a signing ceremony. Garcia will be playing football for Southwestern University in the fall. By Claire Cruz, The Brownsville Herald

Pace senior wide receiver Jaylun Garcia saw his dream come true Tuesday, as he signed to continue his football career with Southwestern University.

Garcia will be heading to Georgetown to play for Pirates coach Joe Austin in the American Southwest Conference at the NCAA Division III level.

“I’m excited to have the chance to play college football because it’s something I’ve worked really hard for, and I’m glad it’s happening,” Garcia said. “I realized I could do this, and I started having confidence in myself and took training seriously throughout the summer and just kept getting better.”

Family, friends and coaches gathered on lawn chairs in Garcia’s back yard to celebrate the accomplishment. Pace coach Daniel Pardo was in attendance and spoke highly of his player.

“Southwestern is getting a great athlete, a great kid with a great attitude,” Pardo said. “He’s matured quite a bit since we got him, and I think that’s a plus, it shows how the parents raised him. I think he’s going to do great at the next level. He’s nowhere near the top, he’s got a lot to learn, and I think he’s really going to flourish.”

Garcia began playing football in middle school and always dreamed of playing at the college level. Throughout his high school years, he worked year-round at his craft and put in many hours with Jorge Mata to improve his footwork, speed and agility.

Garcia said he initially was in the quarterback position, but he felt he could help the team more as a receiver. His work ethic helped him excel after the transition, and he earned first-team honors in District 32-5A and on The Herald’s All-Metro awards. Also, he was selected to the RGVCA East All-Star squad.

The recruitment process wasn’t easy, but Garcia was determined to reach his goal. He used Next College Student Athlete and FieldLevel, both recruiting network websites, and Twitter to get his information in front of coaches.

“I had to do a lot of reaching out, because with people my size they’re not coming to search for you. So I had to put my name out there,” Garcia said.

Garcia fielded interest from out-of-state schools — the other two programs in his top three were in Kansas and Minnesota — but he and his family are glad he’s staying closer to home. He’ll be studying kinesiology and wants to become a football coach in the future.

His parents, Stephanie and Ralph Garcia, sat by his side and thanked his coaches and supporters for helping him get to this point.

“He’s a very smart, bright young man, very talented. We’re very proud of him and everything he’s accomplished, and hopefully he continues to do good in football and school at Southwestern,” Ralph Garcia said.