SAN BENITO — San Benito linebacker Aaron Reyes had an eventful and successful senior year as he took on every opportunity he could to help him get a chance to play college football.

Reyes was the District 32-6A South Zone co-most valuable player after leading the Greyhounds defensively with 52 tackles (10 for loss), two forced fumbles and recoveries and five sacks. He was the All-STAR defensive player of the year.

The big year Reyes had despite only playing six games got him invited to numerous statewide and nationwide events for some of the top seniors. He played in the Hawaii Tiki Bowl and the Texas All-Star showcase, and was honored as the defensive MVP in both.

On Friday, Reyes added to his long list of accomplishments as he signed to play football for Doane University in Crete, Neb., under coach Chris Bessler in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics.

“It was a crazy thing. I dreamed about this my whole life, and it finally happened. I accomplished it,” Reyes said. “I was able to go home and tell my mom, ‘Mom, I did it.’ Because of this year with COVID, I didn’t know if I was going to play college football, didn’t know if it was possible, but I got it done. It was something off my shoulders.”

San Benito linebacker Aaron Reyes signed to play football for Doane University in Crete, Nebraska on Friday at the high school gym. Courtesy: Ramiro Partida

Reyes said going through the recruitment process was “way harder” this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but he’s glad to have a chance to join the Doane Tigers. He’s familiar with their defensive schemes, and he’ll be playing with some friends he made in the all-star game. Reyes plans to study physical education and wants to become a football coach in the future.

“The defense (Doane is) running is the same defense we ran at San Benito,” Reyes said. “I’m going to know what they want me to do and the spots they’ll want me in when I get there. I’ll be learning more there, too. I’m confident about playing as a freshman and just getting to work.”

Reyes said he’s been focusing on getting stronger and faster over the offseason so he’s ready to take on college football. It won’t be an easy task, but life hasn’t always been easy for the outside linebacker. He had a lot of people in his corner as he grew up with the Greyhounds, and he’ll have their support as he represents his hometown at the next level.

“I want to thank my mom, God, my coaches (Dan Gomez and Johnny Garza) and all the coaching staff,” Reyes said. “They’ve always been there, took me in as a sophomore when I was a little bad kid and gave me an opportunity. If it wasn’t for them, I would not be playing football right now. They gave me another chance, and I’m just thankful.

“I also want to thank the teachers, the principals and everyone that helped me throughout high school,” he added. “What I learned is to never give up. Always do with your heart and play with your heart, and it’ll get you places.”

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