JENNIFER FIERRO • PICAYUNE STAFF
MARBLE FALLS — The easiest part on the path to fulfilling a dream requires a pen. The hardest part requires dedication, work and lots of sweat.
PHOTO 1: Faith Academy of Marble Falls senior lineman Brendan Cockroft (seated, center) poses with parents, Cody (left) and Kelly Cockroft and Flames head football coach Russ Roberts (standing) during National Signing Day on Feb. 6. Staff photo by Jennifer Fierro
PHOTO 2: Marble Falls High School senior football players Travis Sparks (left), Rex Printz, Rey Baltazar, Brennan Parker and Ishiah Carson are all smiles on National Signing Day on Feb. 6. They signed their contracts during a ceremony in Max Copeland Gym on the Marble Falls High School campus. Staff photo by Jennifer Fierro
Marble Falls High School football players Ishiah Carson, Brennan Parker, Rex Printz, Travis Sparks and Rey Baltazar and Faith Academy player Brendan Cockroft put pens to paper Feb. 6 on National Signing Day, the first day a high school senior can sign a binding letter of intent to play at a NCAA school.
“It was great,” Baltazar said of sharing the moment with his teammates. “We’ve gone through so much together, all the sweat and blood and tears. To sign with them is amazing.”
The son of Jose Baltazar and Maria Moreno is leaning toward majoring in kinesiology.
Lineman Baltazar will play at Sam Houston State University in Nacogdoches, Printz at Trinity Valley Community College in Athens, Sparks at Angelo State University in San Angelo and Cockroft at Howard Payne University in Brownwood. Receiver Carson and linebacker Parker, who will be roommates, will play at Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene.
Sparks was the most familiar with the process after going on recruiting trips with older brother Austin. Now he’ll follow Austin to ASU.
“And, I kind of got to see all the schools, and Angelo State is hands down the top (Division II) school in the state,” he said. “It’s a really good school. I can’t deny a good offer to go play football. That’s the biggest deal.”
The son of Ricky and Becky Sparks will major in engineering.
Printz had thought he and Baltazar would be invited to visit campuses together, but Trinity Valley coaches asked the Mustang to visit by himself.
“Because they told me they could get me ready to play (Division I) ball,” he said. “They’ve been very successful, and the coaches have a lot of faith in me.” He will major in business.
Father Randy played football at the University of Arizona. His mother is Julie Printz.
Parker chose Hardin-Simmons because he can become a physical therapist in six years instead of eight, he said.
“They said if I work for them for two years after I get out of college, they’ll pay me an annual salary and pay off all my college loans, so that’s also a plus,” he said. “… This is actually kind of a cool experience to actually be here and go through it myself. So I enjoyed that.”
He is the son of Nikki Parker and Russell Mazoch.
Carson said he will play in the same offense he did under Marble Falls head football coach Todd Dodge.
“The coaches (at Hardin-Simmons) just are great quality people,” he said. “You can tell they really care about you, and they care about your education first.”
The son of Steve and Chrissy Dulin and Misty Dulin will major in business.
Cockroft had extended family and friends watch him sign to play for Howard Payne University. He is the son of Kelly and Jay Aldridge and Cody and Kina Cockroft.
“I didn’t expect such a big turnout of people coming in,” he said. “It was great. The support was amazing. Ever since I was little, I grew up watching Texas football. I always dreamed, and I made it a reality now.”