Texas Tech was deciding between two New Mexico athletes on a scholarship for the 1996 season. The Red Raiders went with All-State quarterback Chet Pharies of the mighty Clovis Wildcats, and the University of New Mexico instead picked up a skinny kid from Lovington named Brian Urlacher.
“They’ll regret that the rest of their lives,” Pharies said, looking back on his short college career in Lubbock that quickly flamed out. But he instead took on a career keeping his brother’s dream alive.
Pharies, a 1996 graduate of Clovis, played in three state title games during his three seasons and was part of the 1994 Class 4A champion Wildcats.
But football, school, and everything else mattered little to Pharies after his older brother Chad died of cancer early in his freshman season at Texas Tech.
He was out of football and college a year later, selling cars when an old opportunity came back into the Pharies family. Chad paid for school expenses by starting a small business called Carpet Tech, which was comprised of a minivan with a carpet cleaning machine.
“When he died, my dad sold it to a fireman in town,” Pharies said. “He hated it, called about a year later and asked if we knew anybody who wanted to buy the van. I hated cleaning carpets, but I hated selling trucks too. But I hated me, so it didn’t matter what I did.”
A switch flipped for Pharies early on. He always wanted to be the best football player, and it turned out he wanted to be the best carpet cleaner too.
“You find out really quick football’s not fun if you aren’t winning,” Pharies said. “As I started growing in my business, I learned that’s what I liked; competing and winning. I got consumed with it, I still am.”
The Lubbock-based business now has more than 115 employees and more than 40 carpet cleaning truck mounts.
He said he doesn’t follow Clovis football as much as he should, but he thinks often of how Coach Eric Roanhaus showed him there’s no such thing as a day off — even though he hated Roanhaus throughout high school because he was always told him he was the “worst (expletive) quarterback in America.”
Had he stayed on the football track? “ I know exactly what would have happened. I don’t know if that would have been any better. I wouldn’t have my wife, I wouldn’t have my four kids, I wouldn’t have the relationships I have. But I have no doubt I would have played in the NFL. But there’s no telling; I might have been horrible.
“I do believe things happen for a reason, and this is the path I fell on.”
— Kevin WIlson