Obviously, since I post on these blogs almost every day, I am a serious football fan and I tend to be very competitive just like thousands and even millions of sports fans all over the country and even the world. We all want our team to win and win all the time.
When they don’t win, we want a new Quarterback. If it’s not the QB, we want a new offensive coordinator or a new defensive coordinator. Or, we want a new head football coach altogether. We just aren’t happy with mediocre and not coming out on top of the standings.
Your favorite team wins 3 straight conference championships and then they go 4-7 and everybody wants change. Right or wrong, it’s just part of the game. That’s true in football, basketball, baseball or any other sport on the planet. Produce results or hit the road, is the mentality of the majority of sports fans. We just want to win and we want to win now.
Sometimes change is good and everybody lives happily ever after. But, change can also bring harm to those that don’t deserve it. Some people let it be known that they believe they have been treated unfairly. While others just go about their business and act like the class acts that they are and never complain about how life can be at times.
Vernon, is a small Texas town located near the Oklahoma border just outside of the Panhandle and Northwest of Fort Worth. Vernon is the home of the W.T. Waggoner Ranch which is the type of ranch that gave Texas it’s reputation of everything being large. The Waggoner Ranch is the largest spread in Texas under one fence with some 520,000 acres. Vernon is also the home town of Roy Orbison, the Grammy winning singer and songwriter.
In the sports world, Vernon produced Bernard Scott, Clyde Gates and Daryl Richardson, all cousins that play for various NFL teams. Also, current Arizona State Offensive Line coach Chris Thomsen is from Vernon. Thomsen’s name will start showing up more on the national scene in years to come, I believe.
Vernon, Texas is on the Texas/Oklahoma border near the panhandle and kids grow up there watching Texas Tech, or Oklahoma, or Texas. Fans of those schools generally don’t tend to like each other and football is still king in Texas last time I checked.
Brandon Nava spent all of his early and impressionable years in Vernon.
Brandon was the youngest of four football loving boys, so naturally he grew up around the game. He was always at the football field, always playing football and involved with the game in some way. He also played baseball, basketball and participated in track and field and he was really good at all of them being the athletic kid that he was. He was just a normal little kid growing up in Texas and loving the game of football much like so many other young boys.
In 1988, the Nava family moved from Vernon to Mesquite, Texas a suburb of Dallas. With a swelling population of over 143,000 people, Mesquite is a huge metropolis compared to a rural town like Vernon which has a population of slightly over 10,000 people. Mesquite, despite it’s size, still has that Texas feel to it with the famous Mesquite Rodeo.
The youngest Nava boy, Brandon, was beginning to grow and suddenly he was the biggest, the strongest and the toughest kid around and that showed up on the football field and in other sports.
Brandon played all 4 major sports at Mesquite High School, football, basketball, baseball and track and field. He was good enough, athletically, to excel at all of the sports. All of that changed suddenly after he dislocated his elbow and was unable to play baseball for a while. When the injury had healed up, Brandon returned to baseball. By this time, Brandon had grown to around 6-3 and around 220 to 230 pounds and that had drawn some interest.
The head baseball coach, Rick Geer, asked Brandon into his office to have a word with him and told Brandon that Head Mesquite Football Coach Mickey DeLamar had something to discuss with Brandon.
Coach DeLamar met with Brandon and told him he had been saving something for him for after football was over so that Brandon could focus on football. Coach DeLamar had a huge stack of letters from colleges around the country wanting Brandon to play football for them.
Brandon Nava was suddenly a very highly recruited and sought after football player. It seemed like his future was in football, so Brandon dropped out of all the other sports and concentrated on football.
As soon as the Mesquite High School football coach turned the recruiting over to Brandon, he started receiving as many as 20 letters per day from various schools across the country.
Recruiting Brandon Nava the hardest were Nebraska, Michigan, UCLA, Texas A&M and Texas. Those were his top 5, but there was also Texas Tech right there on the edge and wanting to get Nava’s services. Recruiting Brandon for Texas Tech was Rick Dykes who was an assistant for his father, Spike Dykes, at Texas Tech at that time. Current Baltimore Raven Head Coach John Harbaugh was recruiting Brandon for his school back in those years, Cincinnati.
Theoretically, a college has 25 scholarships to give out per year. They also have a limit of 85 total available for football scholarships. They have a plan going into each recruiting class and take only so many players per position each year if they can get the right players to accept an offer for a scholarship.
A school might play a 4-3 defense and might try to take in 4 Defensive linemen and 3 Linebackers in any given year. Certainly, if a guy like Jadeveon Clowney wants to wait till signing day or later, any school in the country will hold a scholarship for him. He is and was that good.
But, to the standard 3 star or 4 star recruit out there looking to go to a college to play football on scholarship, the really big time colleges out there may or may not hold a spot for you. If they fill up at the position you are playing they may or may not have a spot for you on signing day.
All of that to say that a highly recruited guy like Brandon Nava will get a scholarship on signing day, but because of circumstances it may not be at the school he wants to attend sometimes.
Of Brandon’s early favorite schools, Nebraska was the first one to come off of the board. They had filled up at his position and they called him to tell him that they had no more room for him.
Michigan was next, filling up with the number of Linebackers they were taking in that recruiting class.
Later, UCLA had also filled up at LB. They called Brandon and asked if he would consider coming out to UCLA and playing defensive end. Brandon told them no, he was not interested in any position other than LB. He was a LB at heart and wanted to stay at LB.
That left only Texas and Texas A&M from his early list of favorites. Texas Tech still had an outside shot at landing Brandon at that point.
Brandon had a good friend and teammate that played along side Brandon since middle school. He was a LB named Josh Cannon. Cannon played at the Middle Linebacker or as everyone likes to call it now, the Mike. Brandon played Outside Linebacker and they had been big buddies since Brandon had moved to Mesquite. Cannon had committed to play football at the University of North Texas. But, Cannon suddenly got sick with the rare Guillain-Barre Syndrome. North Texas football coach, Ken Simonton and his staff, were
honorably going to stick with Cannon and still sign him to a football scholarship no matter how sick he became.
Brandon and Josh Cannon were good friends and, of course, Brandon went to see him in the hospital, as good friends often do. The punter for the UNT football team, Jeff Graham, was also there visiting and as people often tend to do he asked what Brandon was going to do about his football future, and which school he was going to sign with.
Brandon being the laid back high school 18 year old that he was, had not made a decision about where he was going to college and really wasn’t in that big of a hurry. Graham said he would not advise that. He said what Brandon had already found out a little, that when schools run out of scholarships that was it and they couldn’t take you. Brandon had seen Nebraska, Michigan and UCLA back out of recruiting him because they had filled up at his position.
Jeff Graham advised Brandon to pick a school and commit. Wisely, Brandon listened and thought it was about time to pick a school. But, the problem was, which one?
Picking a college you want to spend the next four years or more of your life attending is a pretty big deal. Now days, kids are pressured into making decisions about which college they want to play football pretty early. There are even occasionally 8th graders committing to major colleges these days. It has really gotten out of hand.
Brandon went into his room and got cards from each school and just started rifling through them and the Texas card kept coming up. Decision making process of a laid back 18 year old kid was the opposite of scientific, but the Texas card kept winning.
Texas was it.