SAN BENITO — If there’s one thing Elijah Hernandez is sure of, it’s that “anything is possible if you put your mind to it and put in the work.”
That was a common phrase San Benito’s former QB1 said after signing to play college football for Bethany College on Tuesday. It’s a message that got him through the difficult recruiting process and one he hopes will inspire others.
Hernandez started focusing on playing college football at a young age and did whatever he needed to earn an opportunity. Now, he’ll be heading to Bethany, W.Va., to play for Bison coach Bill Garvey in the Presidents Athletic Conference at the NCAA Division III level.
“It means a lot to me. My younger self told me that I wanted to play college ball. I put my mind to it and here I am, signing,” Hernandez said. “Bethany is going to give me an opportunity to, one, compete for a spot, and, two, I’m a versatile athlete, so I can fill in any role they need me to and get experience. I don’t mind playing any position. I just want to be a true freshman and start, just play somewhere.”
Hernandez threw for 755 yards and six touchdowns in the fall, along with accumulating six rushing touchdowns and 412 rushing yards. He was a first-team all-District 32-6A and All-STAR selection. Hernandez said he’ll be competing with Bethany’s senior quarterback when he arrives and that he’s excited for the challenge.
Hernandez will be studying kinesiology and sports management at Bethany College. He said he’s not nervous about moving far from home and is “confident in putting (his) head down and getting to work.” The one thing he did say he’ll really miss, with a laugh: the food from the RGV.
Many teammates, coaches, friends and family members filled San Benito’s gym to celebrate Hernandez’s latest achievement. He said it’s special to know he’ll have a lot of support as he prepares to wait for his opportunity and capitalize on it when it comes in West Virginia.
“It means everything to me. Those guys are my brothers. I played with them all four years of high school, and all I can say is I love them,” Hernandez said. “The No. 1 person (to thank) is my dad. He really taught me all the fundamentals as a kid. He taught me everything I know, and he was there when I fell out of love with the sport. He told me he’d support me in anything I do, and I got back into it and here I am.”