Photo via Tony Venegas, TexasHSFootball.com

 

Never quit, never die. That’s the meaning behind CUJO at Tyler John Tyler High School in East Texas. That mentality has made its way to Indianapolis at the NFL Combine this week as Fred Ross, Greg Ward Jr., and Tyus Bowser make their way through exams, interviews, and on-field workout drills.

The goal is the same for each player: to go out and compete to the best of their ability. That said, the fact that the three of them are representing Tyler, Texas in Indianapolis together is not lost on them.

“It means a lot,” Ross said with a smile on Friday, “You’re putting your city on the map. It’s a privilege to represent your city on a big national stage.”

“All three of us coming from the same high school and the same year, it’s great,” Ward said on Friday, “It just shows the hard work we put in when we were younger and it’s all paying off now.”

Their former head coach, Ricklan Holmes, is also proud of the journey that the three former high school standouts have gone through. The trio were part of a state semifinal squad in 2012 that finished as one of the best teams in the program’s storied history. At the time, Holmes recognized just how far their talents could take them and is proud of how far they’ve come.

“Fred, Greg, Tyus and the rest of those seniors were a tremendous part of that team,” Holmes said, “From the first time they stepped on campus as freshman, we knew that they were going to be special. Now the rest of the country is getting a chance to see that.”

Ward and Bowser both had standout careers at Houston. Fred went off to Mississippi State and became the school’s all time leader in receptions. At the combine this week, they still get to spend some time together amongst the chaos.

“Greg and I have been talking all day,” Ross said Friday, “We’re both excited and happy to be here.”

“We’re just enjoying the moment,” Bowser said Saturday, “We’re just happy for each other to see our brothers in this position.”

As Ross and Ward finish up their drills on Saturday, Bowser has one more day to go. There’s always a focus on competition and putting out the best performance possible for their potential future employers.

“It’s crazy that we’re from Tyler and that we’re here,” Ward said, “but all of us are just focused are showing off what we can do to be better.”

“Growing up together, we were always competing in middle school, high school, Little League, basketball, whatever,” Bowser told reporters on Saturday,  “And just seeing these guys grow up, become mature young men and come out here to put their talents on display and to be in this position right now is great.”

As they’ve grown up, they’ve never lost the importance of home. Holmes says that they each of go back home to train and he enjoys getting to spend time with Ward, his nephew, and the others every time they come back.

“Having a group of three there is amazing,” Holmes said, “They’re continuing the tradition of representing Tyler at the national level and letting everybody know how special the individuals are that come from Tyler, Texas.”

As the trio moves on to the next chapter of their lives, they recognize the privilege of being in Indianapolis for this opportunity. And for those looking back from East Texas, that’s all they want to see.

“I just want to see them get that opportunity to play at the next level, Holmes said, “These guys are physically and mentally ready to play at this level and they’re ready to show everybody that they can.”

 

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