The San Marcos Rattlers may be months removed from their last game on the gridiron for the 2016 season, but several players are still turning heads on the field.
After San Marcos hosted a signing day earlier this month with three student athletes signing national letters of intent to play in the NCAA, and others signing to play other sports as they begin their collegiate careers next fall, several underclassmen have been receiving recognition.
As we covered recently, defensive back Prudy Calderon and offenive lineman Alex Costilla were invited to play in the US Army All-American Combine. A few weeks back they were invited as part of a very select group of student athletes to represent Texas in Nike’s The Opening regional in Houston.
The educational events have seen thousands of promising prospects learn how to be better athletes and players, and eventually go on to play at the highest level, in college and the NFL.
Nike Football The Opening Regionals are the only national camp that offers athletes state-of-the-art education in both Nike Football Training and position-specific football from respected position coaches, while improving each player who attends, and does all of this free of cost to attendees.
But it wasn’t just Calderon and Costilla who received invitations. Sophomore running back Jamon Johnson was also invited by Student Sports, who runs the series of regionals and national camps every year.
While Costilla could not make it out to the event due to a previous obligation, he said he was honored to be selected .
“Just to get an invite to the opening is a big deal. It shows us how our hard work and extra work pays off in the long run. And when you do do the extra you will see results and these combines are the result,” Costilla said. “It’s s good feeling knowing you’re among the top athletes and you come from a small town.”
Johnson, who was thrust into the spotlight early last season when starter Cavion Garner was injured said he enjoyed the one-on-one matchups with some of the best linebackers in the state.
“The invitation was the best thing I’ve experienced yet in my football career. It was exciting competing against other great student athletes, and also learning new techniques and moves that will help me improve on the field,” Johnson said.
“Competing against some of the best athletes in the state really got me going and pumped up. At the same time it made me nervous especially being a first invite to any football camp but like my coach always says “competition brings success” and I know I got something out of the camp definitely. The drills made me realize what I have too work on to better myself .”
Calderon is expected to start at quarterback next season for the Rattlers, but that’s not stopping him from sharpening his defensive back tools and skill set. He didn’t seem to flinch when asked to cover some of the state’s top-ranked wide receivers in one-on-one drills.
Calderon said it was honor to be invited with his teammates, but also stated that they are only three members of an entire team, and that he’d love to see more of his teammates invited in the future.
“To be able to showcase your talents around the best high school players is great. Being taught by great coaches helps benefit yourself as well,” Calderon says. “It feels great knowing that my boys and I got selected but three people can’t make a team. We gotta bring guys along with us and share what it takes to play at that next level.”
All three players said working together at combines and camps so far this offseason has them excited about playing together next season.
“Every day we’re just getting better and better and it’s showing,” Costilla added. “Our younger and more inexperienced players will see that.”
A few days after the players returned from the Houston regional, several Rattlers were recognized as part of the Texas Sports Writers Association’s all-state football team.
Calderon and sophomore defensive back Tashumbrae Brown made it to the honorable mention list. Prior to that, Calderon and Costilla were named to the All Central Texas Team.
While San Marcos will lose many key players to graduation later this year, three-year starters like Calderon and Costilla, along with a young core including Johnson and Brown should help ease the transition heading into next year.