Sanger linebacker Brice Escobedo hasn’t made up his mind about where he wants to play college football. Until he decides, the senior is just happy to be playing again.
Escobedo was selected as one of 40 players from across the country to play in the inaugural FBU International All-Star Games that will take place Tuesday through next Saturday at the Alamodome in San Antonio.
The games will feature more than 160 under-19 players on five teams: the United States, Mexico, Europe, Canada/Montreal and Canada/British Columbia. The championship game will be played at 7 p.m. Jan. 5.
With nearly 1,000 players considered for the U.S. team, each athlete was judged by the Football University committee of former NFL players and coaches on their performance at camps and in game footage.
For Escobedo, his recognition and recruitment began during his junior season.
“It all started in my junior year with the big Sanger-Argyle game that was on TV,” Escobedo said. “A couple scouts saw me and then they came to the Sanger-Celina game. Then about a week later, I got this letter from FBU. It’s a collection of former NFL coaches and players that put on this tournament. Last year I went to the FBU camp in Rockwall. I did fairly well at that camp and then went to the national camp in Williamsburg, Va.”
During the recruiting process, Escobedo was judged on his talent on the field as well as his work in the classroom. As a member of the National Honor Society with a 4.0 grade-point average, Escobedo said he was most intrigued by the focus on the intricacies of the game.
“It pushed me as a player, but as a student we did a lot of skill work on the field and then in the classroom,” Escobedo said. “The coach would critique our game film and it really helped a lot. It’s nice seeing yourself and taking what you learned in the classroom and transferring it to field.”
Playing in the all-star game is quite an honor for Escobedo, but midway through Sanger’s season, an injury forced him to miss three games and threatened the rest of his senior season.
Sanger coach Chuck Galbreath said Escobedo’s injury took him by surprise because of how versatile and reliable he has been in his football career.
“Against Aubrey, he broke two ribs and punctured a lung,” Galbreath said. “He told me that he could make it to halftime. I thought he was just exhausted because he filled in for a running back that was hurt. He was having trouble breathing from the injury. He’s always been a tough kid.”
Escobedo was voted captain by his teammates, and Galbreath noted that his commitment to the team was one of the reasons he was selected for the all-star game.
“He’s been very dependable,” Galbreath said. “He’s always been a great leader with his actions. He was constantly meeting our expectations when it came to workouts, and he always did what he was asked to do. We didn’t have to worry about him. I think he was very well respected by his teammates. He essentially never came off the field when he was younger. He was always the leading tackler and runner.”
Escobedo broke his arm in four places when he was younger, so this year’s wasn’t his first major injury. He was predicted to be able to return for the team’s final game at Decatur, but he worked hard to make it back a game early.
Escobedo said that he would have played through the rib injury if it weren’t for the team trainer.
“I would have kept playing if my trainer wasn’t so smart,” Escobedo said. “I was out for five to six weeks and I missed three games. Football is just a privilege.”
When Escobedo found out he was selected for the all-star game, he thought of it as an opportunity to make up for lost time.
“The biggest thing I hope to do is make up for the time I missed,” Escobedo said. “There are players from all around the world, and there’s a possibility I may get to play against them later. I’m just looking forward to the experience. It’s just one more game I get to play that I missed.”
With several family members and friends expected to make the trip to San Antonio to support him, Escobedo is looking forward to representing his home.
“It’s a great privilege and I’m extremely blessed to even be considered,” Escobedo said. “It’s a dream come true for me. Not only can I represent my town and my state, but my country. I’m proudest to represent my country.”
PATRICK HAYSLIP can be reached at 940-566-6873. His e-mail address is email@example.com.