GONZALES — Family atmosphere and the willingness to succeed were contributing factors for Juan “Bull” Licea’s college decision. That, as well as “believing in the process,” is why Licea announced his decision to sign with Northwestern Oklahoma State University on National Signing Day last week.
“All the coaches have many years of experience with each other and they have their own family bond going on there,” Licea said. “I felt that maybe I could go and join that family. They made me feel at home.”
Licea had a stellar year at defensive tackle, honorably mentioned to the Texas Associated Press Sports Editors all-state team. He was also named District 10-4AD2’s lineman MVP.
Despite playing other sports for the Apaches, Licea “always wanted to play college football.”
“It just took me a couple years ago to realize that I can’t play football forever,” he said. “I found out that you should use football to go and get an education instead of you getting an education to play football. Football is not always going to be there. You only have so many snaps left.”
Now that he found his path to education, Licea still has a decision to make on what his major would be. As of now, he’s signed up for sports science to go into coaching, though he still has interests in social work or accounting.
“I’m still looking into it right now, still undecided,” he said.
What Licea does know is he is ready to contribute early on while representing Gonzales.
“I want to show that I came to play and that I can fit into the family,” he said, “and someone from Gonzales can make it 10 hours away, come back and still be humble to their roots that they came from. Just go on and make it big.”
Licea is one of three athletes who signed on signing day in Gonzales High. Make no mistake about it, the defensive lineman believes this will be a trend for the Apaches.
“It is big because ever since the beginning of this year we wanted to make a change in the community,” Licea said. “It started small with two or three of us and it ended up turning to the whole football team and it started affecting the whole city and cities surrounding us. They notice that Gonzales is different. The whole school, the mindset of our football team, it changed. We started believing in God, putting God first in everything that we do and then do everything for your last name, represent your family, represent your whole community and that’s what we’re going to go do.”
When asked for advice, Licea said athletes who want to play college ball need to have their mindset set on what their goals.
“Go and get what you want,” he said. “Someone is always better than you, you should aim to be perfect — even though only one person is perfect and that is God.”
Northwestern Oklahoma State University competes in NCAA Division II intercollegiate sports. The Rangers are members of the Great American Conference.