Marion football standouts Jacob Berry (left), Matthew Quigley (center), and Josh Rodriguez (right) finalized their college commitments during a signing event on the MHS campus Wednesday afternoon. Berry will play at Texas Lutheran University, while Quigley and Rodriguez will join the Sul Ross State program in Alpine.
(Marion) – Marion High School seniors Jacob Berry, Matthew Quigley, and Josh Rodriguez signed letters of intent to continue their football careers at the NCAA Division III level Wednesday afternoon, with Berry staying close to home to attend Texas Lutheran University, and Quigley and Rodriguez heading to Alpine to play for Sul Ross State.
Berry was a three-year starter for Marion and earned All-District accolades as a running-back and defensive back, capping his career with District 13-3A-Division I MVP honors as a senior in 2017. Berry’s dynamic combination of speed and elusiveness helped him total 1,216 yards and 19 touchdowns rushing, 261 yards and two scores receiving, and touchdowns on kick returns and interception returns as well.
With multiple schools around the country to chose from, Berry says TLU head coach Carl Gustafson and staff made his decision easy.
“Coach Gus, ultimately, they were all just an exciting crew,” Berry said. “Coming over every week and seeing how I’ve been doing is a real big factor. Checking up on me every single day, seeing how I’m doing, and just getting to know them was a big part. That’s what sold it. They’re really good guys, and I’m glad to be going to school with them.”
Former Marion head football coach Bruce Salmon, who recently resigned to take the same position at Kyle-Lehman, coached Berry the past four seasons. He also played for Gustafson in Seguin years ago and later worked under him as an assistant coach at New Braunfels-Canyon.
“I think it’s a great fit,” Salmon said of Berry committing to TLU. “I think the opportunity to play at a good university such as TLU, and to play in a good program, to play in a program that he fits real well, play in a program that’s close enough that his family’s going to be able to come watch, I think that’s a huge thing. I was fortunate to have that as a college athlete myself, and you don’t really realize it until later on, but a chance to make some memories, and I think it’s a great thing for TLU, because it’s a local kid, it’s going to draw a crowd, and he’s a heck of a player on top of that.”
Quigley and Rodriguez were both first team All-District selections on the defensive side of the ball last season – Quigley at linebacker and Rodriguez at cornerback. They both plan to major in kinesiology and pursue coaching careers, and both found similar appeal in Sul Ross State’s athletic and academic programs, as well as in the Alpine community on the whole.
“I went on my visit there and it reminded me a lot of Marion,” Quigley said. “The tuition is really reasonable there, I like the team, I like the coaches, I like Coach (John) Pearce a lot, and I want to coach (and major in) kinesiology, and I plan on coming back to Marion someday and coaching.”
“The environment over there was a lot like Marion,” Rodriguez added. “It was a small town. Everyone’s close over there too, because there’s no really like big towns around. So everyone was close, everyone knew each other. There’s not really a lot of distractions over there. There’s just education and football.”
After playing alongside Berry at Marion High School, Quigley and Rodriguez could someday face the task of trying to tackle their classmate as an opponent. Texas Lutheran and Sul Ross State are both football members of the American Southwest Conference.