Wednesday was National Signing Day, the time when star high school athletes announce which college they’re choosing.
Desert Pines High School yielded a bumper crop of talent both on the field and off. At least 13 players from their state championship football team signed with college programs.
The coach and team members say the secret to their success comes down to their tightly knit community.
Marckell Grayson, a quarterback with a 4.17 grade point average, signed with UNLV. Jordan Simon, a receiver with a 3.6 GPA, signed with Adams State. Some of the other programs include USC, Arizona State and UC Berkeley.
“Our community is great with our coaching staff and being on our heads,” says Simon.
“I feel like our coaches are doing a good job and obviously we’re doing something right on right field, in the weight room and in the classroom,” Grayson says.
“We really stress academics,” says head coach Tico Rodriguez.
Desert Pines, near East Washington Avenue and Pecos Road, is in one of the most economically challenged neighborhoods in the Clark County School District.
Rodriguez says the school works to keep the student-athletes on track. The coaches are big brother and father figures to the players
“We have this it take a village mentality,” Rodriguez says. “If the kid is slipping in grades we call the parents to make them aware. We have a family feel at Desert Pines and that’s what we stress, working together, making sure the kids are doing the right things academically and on the field.”
And the players hold each other responsible.
“We’re all focused and we all keep each other accountable to do things, keep our grades up to do good on the field,” says Simon.
“It’s a blessing and has work just paid off,” Grayson says.
Simon tells 13 Action News he wants to major in business management. Grayson wants to be a nephrologist, a kidney specialist.