GROSSMONT COLLEGE — On Jay Z’s song Big Pimpin, Native Texan Pimp C (Port Arthur) ask the listener with a boastful mix of pride and passion, “Now what y’all know about them Texas boys?!!” The Lone Star State is a high school football hotbed like no other. One can look to the number #1 selling, and award nominated Friday Night Lights book, movie, and television franchise to see that.
College campuses from all over the country usually are represented by native Texans and Grossmont is no different. The 2011 roster features seven such players: Running Back Dontae Williams (Houston/Aldine High School), Joseph Carheel, Wide Receiver (San Antonio/ Madison HS), Rion Smalls (Laredo/United HS), Blake Bullard (Killeen) and three players from El Paso: Twin Brothers Marcus and Eldredge Calhoun (Austin HS), and Kicker Andres Carrillo (Bel Air HS). “There’s a lot of talent there,” says head coach Mike Jordan.
Being from the same state is one thing. But getting the players to agree on whose city best represented the Lone Star State was a dubious task. “West Texas all day,” said Eldredge Calhoun, who recorded a big 62 yard interception return in the Griffins 37-40 loss to Southwestern College. “South Texas all day,” countered Smalls. “Centex is where it’s at,” boasts Bullard who is from the Central Texas football hotbed, Killeen, Texas.
The native Texans viewed Southern California as a different,far-away land from their respective homes. They all agreed that San Diego’s Mediterranean climate was a welcome change from the oppressively hot and humid heat of Texas during the fall, and the cold icy winters of the winter time.
“You get that nice breeze out here,” said Marcus Calhoun. The Texas seven all agreed that while Texas girls are no slouches, they wish they all could be California girls, citing “the women,” as an asset to relocating to San Diego. While being 1,000 plus miles from home can be positive for personal growth, all the Texans admitted to missing home from time to time.
“Texas is home,” says Carheel, “The people out here are cool, but the people in Texas are extremely welcoming.” The southern cuisine was not far off the mind of the 6’3’’ 275 Lb Bullard who says “I miss the soul food. Mom can’t cook for me out here.”
Texas high school football is extremely competitive. Nearly every school will have at least 3-5 legitimate division I football prospects, which means every game requires maximum effort. “Playing D 1 competition (in high school) definitely prepared me,” said Carheel.
Bullard said that back in Texas his team regularly did the dreaded “Oklahoma drill“ where four offensive players go up against four defensive players in a confined full contact drill “it’s was a more savage style of play,” said Bullard.
While all seven players have aspirations of playing at the Division I level, with Smalls and the Calhoun Twins eyeing University of Texas-El Paso, and Williams looking at national-runner-up Oregon, the task at hand is Grossmont College’s own divison. When asked what the Griffins needed to do to rebound from a disappointing 0-3 start the players cited team play and learning on the fly as key components to turning the season around.
“We have to come together and mature,” said Smalls. Both Calhoun brothers said the team needs “less individualism” and more of a team-first mentality. Bullard agreed saying, “We have to play as a team.”
Being from Texas has given these players an instant bond—“There’s always a guy from Texas to reminisce with,” say Carheel. Coming out West to play football is confirmation on what a big part of their lives the game is.
Like the state song will tell you, the stars at night are big in bright, deep in the hearts of these seven Grossmont Texans.
Hurst is a student in Media Comm 132. He may be contacted at [email protected]