High School Sports

The No. 2 overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft spoke at Arlington ISD’s National Signing Day

When a former student-athlete from your school district stands before you having earned nearly $29 million playing football, you take note of the “impossible.”

While seldom few will ever amass that many digits in their bank account, at least 70 student-athletes from Arlington Independent School District will get to experience the joy Luke Joeckel did by playing in college.

The No. 2 overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, and former Arlington Colts All-American, was the guest speaker at Arlington ISD’s National Signing Day on Wednesday.

Among his message to those in attendance was to avoid trying to block All-Pro defensive end Von Miller if at all possible.

“All of you are great high school players, but there is a step you’ll have to take when you get to college,” he said. “I had a rude awakening when I entered A&M... Spring ball started and my first-ever rep was against Von Miller. I remember that I didn’t even touch him. It was definitely eye-opening.”

Joeckel said he called his dad and told him he didn’t think college football was for him.

“The guy I go against every day I haven’t touched. I’m not going to be able to slow him down,” Joeckel said.

His dad followed up with a message he still lives with to this day: the best growth comes when you are most uncomfortable.

There have undoubtedly been uncomfortable moments for these student-athletes, like Martin’s Riley Alexander, who signed to run track at Samford University.

She’s made it to the regional meet every year in hurdles, finished fifth at Texas Relays and made it to the Junior Olympics in the heptathlon. She’s also the captain of the cheerleading squad, which just won second place at a national tournament, is the vice president of the Psychology Club and a member of Martin’s renowned choir, which will compete in a contest in London this May.

Alexander does all this while holding a 4.0 GPA.

“Today is very exciting because i get recognized for what I’ve achieved athletically,” said Alexander, who will juggle hurdles and pole vault while majoring in nursing.

She was one of 14 students from Martin to sign athletic scholarships this year. Arlington had 20, Bowie had 10, Seguin had 9, Lamar had 8, and Sam Houston had 2.

“I’ll say this for all the coaches in the room; yes winning is important. But at the end of the day, this day is really what defines us,” Arlington athletic coordinator Scott Peach said. “And it defines us because our fulfillment in life is the fact that we get to work with these young people and create a team to be the very best they can be. When that happens it’s total fulfillment for us and a reason why we wake up and do the job we do.”

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Sports editor William Wilkerson is back for his second stint with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. He first worked at the paper after graduating from the University of Texas at Austin. He most recently was the Executive Editor of College-Team Sites for CBS Interactive/247Sports and has also worked at ESPN, Scout.com and the Austin American-Statesman.