NACOGDOCHES (KYTX) – Two Nacogdoches Dragons joined hundreds of high school football players across the nation who took the next step in pursuing their athletic dreams.
Nacogdoches seniors Jacob Bragg and Greg Roberts, in front of friends and family, made their mark on National Signing Day. Both formalized their commitments to play collegiate football — Bragg at the University of Kansas and Roberts at Baylor University.
"These are two really great young men, who are going to be a great example of the kids that Nacogdoches High School produces," said Nacogdoches head football coach Bobby Reyes. "We're excited that they're going to have the opportunity to further their education and continue to play football."
Bragg also held offers from Louisiana Tech, Oregon State, and the University of Louisiana-Monroe, but noted that the NFL experience on the Kansas coaching staff made a strong impression.
"The offensive line coach is a great guy," Bragg said. "He's coached some Big 12 All-Americans, and Outland Trophy finalists, so I feel comfortable going to him and learning from him."
Kansas offensive line coach Tim Grunhard played center for the Kansas City Chiefs for 11 seasons, being named to the Pro Bowl in 1999. Head football coach Charlie Weis also spent time in the NFL as an assistant coach.
The 6-foot-5, 300-pound center showed a softer side asking those in attendance to remember the life of would-be Kansas teammate Andre Maloney, a senior from Shawnee Mission West High School (KS), who passed away in October 2013, after suffering a stroke during a game.
"It just shows you [that] life's short, and you can't waste opportunities," Bragg added.
Roberts, who will join head coach Art Briles in Waco, said educational opportunities encouraged his commitment.
"They have a great educational system," he said. "It's just an all-around good program. I feel like I can do a lot of good there."
Roberts plans to major in business and hopes to receive his master's degree while at Baylor.
"Hopefully, I go to the NFL," he added. "But if not, I really want to look into investing and making some money. I really want to provide for my family. That's what my goal is."
The 6-foot-3, 200-pound defensive end is not the first in his family to play football at the collegiate level. His father, Greg Roberts, Sr. played at the University of Oklahoma, winning the Outland Trophy in 1978, before continuing his career professionally with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
"He doesn't really put football on me," Roberts said. "We talk more about life than anything. But it is an honor to say that, ‘My dad did do this,' and, ‘I'm following in his footsteps.' I'm real proud to be his son."
Coach Reyes expressed his own pride in the two college-bound seniors.
"It's a great deal that both of them are getting to go to quality programs," Reyes said. "We want to challenge them. We know that at some point in time, football is going to be over, but the education is going to last a lifetime."