PHARR, Texas (ValleyCentral) — The PSJA North football team had a great season in 2022.

The Raiders posted a 13-1 record and reached the fourth round of the playoffs.

The hard work on the field and in the weight room is paying off for a quartet of Raiders.

The UTRGV football program offered PSJA North football players Ale Aparicio, JoeDerek Vecchio, Danny Garcia Jr., and Dante Garcia, a spot with the Vaqueros as preferred walk-ons.

“Our group, all of us together to get an offer, it’s awesome,” said junior offensive lineman Dante Garcia. “We’ve dreamed about it the whole time. All the work we’ve put in is finally paying off.”

The four Raiders were called into an office during team activities when UTRGV offensive line coach Jeff Bowen informed them of the offers.

“For us to be called in like that, we didn’t think the most of it,” said junior defensive lineman Danny Garcia Jr. “We were just expecting a pep talk. To get that news really opened our eyes and made us think we can be something.”

While the Raiders still have time to make a decision and study other offers that may arrive, they’re thankful for the opportunity.

“It’s super special because a lot of times kids down here don’t get those kinds of opportunities,” said junior center JoeDerek Vecchio. “To get that opportunity is special and a big honor.”

The Raiders say having a college football program in the Rio Grande Valley and seeing members of UTRGV’s coaching staff show up to high schools serves as motivation to players.

“Really cool because everyone picks up the intensity and the energy goes way up,” Vecchio said. “They really bring in the competition out there. “It gets really intense. We bring out fullest potential.” 

“Big thing for the Valley,” added junior quarterback Ale Aparicio. “A lot of eyes opened up. A lot of coaches and athletes are looking forward to going there.”

The UTRGV football program will begin playing games in the fall of 2025.