By Shawn Tripputi
It is August, and that only means football is right around the corner. That is especially true for two San Marcos Academy graduates. Aubrey Oswalt and Eddy Haddad both graduated from SMA this past spring, and were recently named Texas All-Stars, and played in the SportsmarketingExperts.com Bowl in Houston, Texas.
The two teammates have played in high school, but now they are going to do what many dream of doing, playing college football. Aubrey and Eddy both have reported to Oklahoma Panhandle State University (OPSU) to launch their football and academic careers.
OPSU is a Division II school that is on the rise. According to last season statistics, the OPSU Aggies ranked second in overall defense. In addition to the good defense, they also hired an offensive minded coach in Russell Gaskamp. Gaskamp, has plenty of offensive experience when he played for the University of Texas. He helped Heisman Trophy winner Ricky Williams lead the nation in rushing in 1998, and paved the way for UT to be ranked among the nation’s top 25. He has also spent the past seven years coaching in the Lone Star Conference, with his last stop being in Angelo State University.
Many times high school football players that attend private schools get overlooked for various reasons, but Gaskamp believes there are some gems that can be found. “I think it is a common mistake to overlook private school athletes in Texas… There are plenty of good football players in the private ranks and we feel like these two guys have a chance to develop into quality players for the Aggies down the road.” Gaskamp also said, “OPSU will always be open and actively recruit private school kids that need a chance to blossom at the NCAA Div. II level.”
Aubrey had a few offers to play at other colleges, but he chose OPSU for a reason. “I have really enjoyed the football staff and the campus at OPSU. I am blessed to have the opportunity to play college football on the D2 level and get my degree.” Aubrey will play tight end for the Aggies, and Gaskamp is looking forward to it, “We are always looking for TE body types because they are less and less used at the HS level and Aubrey fits that mold.” Aubrey is also quick to point to who helped him get to where he is, “I have had so many people in San Marcos along with my family contribute to my foundation to get me here to Oklahoma.”
There is big difference of pace from high school to college football, but Aubrey is up to the challenge. “The game here is much faster than high school but I am adjusting and look forward to contributing to the Aggies program in anyway.”
Aubrey’s former, and now future teammate Eddy Haddad will be playing defensive end for the Aggies. “Defensive line prospects are always difficult to find and we were glad to pick up Eddy late. He has worked hard to change his body over the summer.” Coach Gaskamp said. Eddy is also very excited to be working with the OPSU coaches. “The coaches are unbelievably amazing! They are very smart and I am glad to be coached under them, and I look forward to an incredible year.”
Eddy also was amazed at the atmosphere that OPSU provides. “The college is great! [It has] great people, and everyone is very welcoming.”
Aubrey and Eddy have already started practice and are working really hard to help the team out in anyway they can, and Coach Gaskamp already sees that. “We are real excited about Aubrey and Eddy joining the OPSU Football team. Both have shown flashes early in camp and are working hard to learn.”
The OPSU Aggies open their 2012 football schedule Sept. 1 against the Missouri University S&T Miners, a Great Lakes Valley Conference member, in Rolla, Missouri.
Photos: Courtesy OPSU Sports Information Department.
Shawn Tripputi is marketing intern at Sports Marketing Expert.