Life trajectories were altered on Saturday.
The Houston Texans hosted their 16th annual Senior Showcase, fueled by Gatorade. The event was essentially a mashup of a scouting combine and a college fair for high school football players in their final semester of school. More than 350 players from around the region worked out on the field for college football coaches at Division II, Division III and NAIA programs from across the nation. In all, just over 45 colleges were represented at the Houston Methodist Training Center.
After the drills, measurements and timings took place, the players had a chance to meet with the college reps.
National Signing Day came and went for the high profile programs last week. But on Saturday, a second wave of high schoolers got a chance to extend their football playing days. More importantly, that chance came with an opportunity to attend college as well. Phil Camp is the Founder and Executive Director of the Senior Showcase and was thrilled to be back for another year of providing opportunities.
"It gives them an avenue that they haven't had before," Camp said of the players vying to catch the eyes of the assembled coaches. "There's not a lot of people around here that have heard of Duquesne College or Concordia Lutheran or Texas Lutheran. But this gives them a chance to find out about schools all across the nation, and it gives those colleges a chance to come down and pick up some Texas high school football players."
Since the event began in 2009, more than 1,500 scholarships totaling over $160 million in scholastic aid have been awarded. Young men who were headed elsewhere in life got a chance to get an education and continue to play the game they love.
"Every year, we tell them that this is their most important job interview of their life," Camp said. "This is the opportunity that they have to get into college, play ball, get a degree, better themselves and come back into the community they're from and bring something back."
Trevin Chandler was on hand Saturday and is entering his third season as the defensive backs coach at Bethany College. In the winter of 2017, though, Chandler was finishing up his high school career at Pearland. He took part in the showcase then, and it led him to the NAIA school of 800 students in Lindsborg, Kansas. He played receiver there, and now is an assistant looking for talent to fill out the current roster. It's been a full-circle experience for the young coach.
"This was an opportunity that I had myself," Chandler said. "It's important for kids in the city of Houston to know that there are opportunities outside of Texas. Outside of what they've seen before. It's good for them to get out and see the world."
Jacques Brown played a few different positions at Sterling High School, and heard about the showcase from teammates who attended last year's showcase and earned scholarships to various colleges.
He promised to be the hardest working football player at whichever school wound up giving him a chance, and explained why the showcase was so beneficial to him, and other high schoolers like him.
"If you think you're underrated, and you're a dawg, you can come out here and dominate," Brown said.
Former Texans like receiver Cecil Shorts, III and defensive end N.D. Kalu were on hand to give pep talks, share their knowledge and lend support to the athletes and coaches.