Rattler aims for Division I football

By Kevin Wilson: Quay County Sun

When Brian Lopez grows up, he wants to become a doctor. While Brian Lopez is growing up, he wants to be a Division I college football player. This summer will give the Tucumcari High School junior a chance to see if he can get a chance to do both.

Lopez, a 6-foot-3, 230-pound linebacker, is one of hundreds of high school football players invited to the Midwest Elite Football Combine, held May 20 at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis. The combine is in its second year, with its opening year featuring 350 invited athletes and 65 college football coaches in attendance.

Through the invitation-only combine and a few other football camps this summer, Lopez hopes there will be a few coaches interested in giving him a chance to play football at a Division-I school.

Though he admits he has more desires from a college than football — a good pre-med program and a place with cold weather — it’s a pretty big factor in whatever decision he makes less than a year from now.

“I love being able to go out and hit somebody and be aggressive,” Lopez said of playing football. “It would be a great way to go to college and have fun doing it.”

Players express interest in the camp, but an invitation depends on physical measures — height, weight, how fast a player runs 40 yards and a player’s vertical leap, among other qualities — and how well a player scores on college entrance exams like the ACT.

Brian’s father, Daniel Lopez, said his son may be attractive to many college coaches because at 16, he still has potential to grow.

“More than anything,” Daniel said, “I think he has an extremely quick reaction and natural feel for the ball.”

The two have sent game film to many college coaches, hoping Brian is exactly what a coach needs to fill a hole at middle linebacker. With video mailings and a summer of football camps — Brian is also signed up for camps at Texas Tech and Colorado State and a combine in Oklahoma City — they hope to make contact with that particular coach.

“There are plenty of people who can play football,” Daniel Lopez said. “It’s whether or not you get the right coach to look at you. If he has any chance at all at getting a look, we’ve got to go to them.”

The two have talked with former players and coaches from Division I schools, and the advice they’ve gotten from every one has been to go to as many camps and combines as possible.

Brian Lopez, who has finished as a runner-up at the last two Class 2A state wrestling tournaments, said he enjoys wrestling but has received minimal interest from college coaches to this point.

While he would consider an opportunity to wrestle in college or play for a good Division-II school, Brian isn’t looking for those chances.

“My ultimate goal is Division I (football),” he said. “I really think I’m capable of going Division I. It’s a goal I’d really like to reach.”