I first started playing football when I was in about fifth grade. I played a bunch of sports as a kid, but once I got into it around ninth grade, that’s when I really started feeling passionate about it, and I knew that I wanted to play football in college. And it has been a dream of mine since then.
I’m the first of three siblings to go to college, and my parents did not go to college. My parents’ goals were to get all my siblings to school, and with me specifically being the firstborn, they were not going to take no for an answer. My parents and siblings, they’ve supported me and I feel like if I ever needed to fall back they would catch me. So I’m really grateful to have the support system that I do here, and I think without my family, and the support that they bring, I don’t think that I would be on the track that I am.
Going into college football, I had a lot of goals. I had the mentality that I was going to fight for what I want, and nothing was going to be easy, but I was going to make sure that no matter how hard it would be, I was going to achieve those goals. I think so far, I’m on the right track. I don’t want to speak too much about what I’ve achieved so far, but from how I’ve grown from these past two years, I just feel very empowered and feel like if I continue to do the work that I’m doing, great things will happen.
I think what I want people to know about me is I believe that it doesn’t matter where you come from, how big you are, how fast or strong you are, whatever it may be. If you have the mindset and the drive to achieve something, you’re going to go out and get it. I knew that I wasn’t going to be the fastest, strongest, smartest guy going into it. And you’re going to fail at some point, but you just have the mentality to continue to drive forward and get 1% better every day.
Football has definitely told me a lot. In high school football, you’re not thrown into a melting pot as big as what you are in college; you meet people from all walks of life. People from places you’re likely to never visit. So, it gave me a lot of insight, and it kind of opened my eyes a lot to the world and to people.
To make change, it’s important to at least try. Because if someone is going to listen to another person, it’s going to be someone they can relate to. And if you play sports, there’s hundreds of thousands of people that can relate to that.
I’m obviously a student-athlete of color. I’m one hundred percent Puerto Rican – my father, he’s black Puerto Rican and my mother, she’s white. I don’t like to call myself white and I don’t call myself black because I’m not really either. You know, but I’m starting to learn to be proud of it. And I’m learning to accept that. And I think once you’re comfortable in your own skin it just allows you to achieve so much more because you’re comfortable with who you are.