LOS FRESNOS — Playing football wasn’t always in the cards for Los Fresnos’ J.J. Contreras. Prior to his sophomore year, Contreras lived and breathed soccer, training in the sport since he was 4.

Things changed during his second year of high school. After contemplating going out for the football team as a freshman, Contreras finally gave it a go as a sophomore.

The rest is history.

Contreras became the Falcons’ starting kicker by year’s end that same season and never looked back, evolving into one of the RGV’s top special teams weapons during the next three years.

Now his football journey is set to continue, signing his National Letter of Intent to play the same position at the next level for UTRGV during a ceremony Monday at Los Fresnos High School.

UTRGV is an NCAA Division I program set to compete in the Southland Conference beginning in 2025.

Los Fresnos kicker JJ Contreras poses with his family after signing his NLI to UTRGV. (Courtesy Photo)

“I never pictured myself playing DI as a football player,” Contreras said. “It is hard letting soccer go. I know deep down my dad wanted me to play soccer, but I think this is best for me. Football is worldwide, but soccer is harder to go to the next level. Football just felt right. The United States owns football. Then we’re in the state of Texas, where so many people play. It just felt good. It was a hard decision knowing I played soccer my whole life, but I kind of fell out of love with the sport in high school and football just grew on me. I love the atmosphere, the confidence it gave me, the coaches, my teammates. It is just something different.”

Contreras wasted no time establishing himself as one of the RGV’s top special teams weapons during his first season, going 25-of-27 on extra points and converting all seven of his field goal attempts, including a long of 42 yards.

He followed his debut campaign with a 42-point season, going 33-of-33 on PATs and 3-of-6 on field goal attempts.

Contreras capped his high school career with a career-high 66 points this past season, going perfect on PATs once again (44-of-44) and converting 7-of-11 field goals.

Los Fresnos kicker JJ Contreras (17) attempts a field goal. (Courtesy Photo)

“I feel like soccer definitely helped me in knowing how to keep my foot position in certain parts of the ball,” Contreras said. “Just knowing where to put your foot on the ball is important. You might not have the biggest leg, but if you have the technique it’ll help. Power does play a role in it, but that technique is the biggest difference. I feel like soccer played a big factor in that for me.”

Despite only three years competing as a kicker, Contreras joins the Vaqueros battle-tested, attempting more than 100 PATs in his career. More impressively, he leaves Los Fresnos with a staggering 98.1% conversion rate on those kicks.

He also finished with 17 converted field goals on 24 career attempts during the past three years, including a long of 46 yards as a senior.

Contreras isn’t done yet, however, hoping to continue to grow his game to another level at UTRGV.

Los Fresnos kicker JJ Contreras celebrates a kick during a game. (Courtesy Photo)

“Obviously everyone has a dream of making it pro, but you have to go step by step,” Contreras said. “I’m going to have competition coming in from other places, but my coaches believe in me and I believe in me. I just have to keep working. Specialists aren’t really given scholarships, so you have to work your way in and earn that No. 1 spot. I feel like I can outperform people. That’s something I look forward to. I’m not going to let anything get in my way.”

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