His announcement was made at Fiesta Nissan Bert Ogden Auto Group
As originally published in Texas Border Business newsprint edition July 2019
By Roberto Hugo Gonzalez
It was a historic day for the Rio Grande Valley when Tyler Bailey, a seventeen-year-old student from Robert Vela High School in Edinburg selected which university he wanted to play with.
He received multiple offers from all over the nation, from the best universities in the country. But ultimately being closer to family was an important factor for him and he chose Texas Christian University (TCU) in Fort Worth Texas.
Johnny Rodriguez, director of public relations for the Bert Ogden Auto Group, was the first one at the podium to make the proper introductions.
This particular announcement was at Fiesta Nissan, a dealership that is part of the Bert Ogden Auto Group conglomerate in Edinburg Texas.
This is one of the newest buildings of the auto group and big enough to host a large group like the Tyler family and all his friends. It was estimated that 110 guests participated in the celebration.
He thanked Mr. Robert Vackar, principal of the auto group for volunteering the facility for such a special and unique event.
Also, a big thumbs up for Juan Rodriguez, general manager for Fiesta Nissan who also took part in the ceremony.
Rick Bailey, Tyler’s dad, said that it had been long road traveling to different schools for Tyler to feel like at home.
“We sat down in the truck a lot of times together and talked, only to realize that being close to family and friends was the best decision. He’s put in a lot of hard work to get here; he’s still got a senior year next year. I hope to see a lot of y’all at the games next year,” he said.
Fiesta Nissan was decorated inside with TCU colors. Even the cupcakes, which were very popular, had the university colors and logo.
When it came time for him to say a few words, Tyler said, “Obviously, as you all could tell I chose TCU as my college. I chose TCU because it was by far more accessible than Texas Tech, and my family being from Dallas Fort Worth we have a bunch of families up there. For anybody that wanted to go to the games, it’s only an 8-hour drive,” he said.
He took the opportunity to thank all his coaches from high school and also his trainer Coach Wagner. “Thank you for spending all those hours with me outside of school, an hour in the weight room and almost two hours doing footwork training and things like that. So, he’s really done a lot to get me where I am to get the skill set that I need to play at the next level. So yeah, thank you.”
John Campbell, the head coach at Robert Vela High School, now on his 3rd year with the school said, “I want to congratulate the family, and obviously, Tyler. This is a significant accomplishment to have an opportunity to go off to a top-25 school and participate. I’m sure there’s some closure now for the family where they can relax and go back to being normal.”
Tyler’s decision to stay in Texas was difficult because many universities had opened the door for him. It’s clear that this is not going to be the only decision he has to make moving forward, but when you are surrounded by family and friends, and also a professional coach, like coach Keith Wagner, makes a difference.
Coach Wagner mentioned about coaching, that it’s really easy when the guy has talent. “Tyler, when Rick contacted me and asked me to come down to the Valley to work with you, it was really a feeling-out process. And to find out if Tyler had what it took, from a talent aspect to be a college football player.” And he ought to know, Coach Wagner has coached college football for two years.
“I mean, the kid is big, he’s quick, he can be in, his flexibility is out of this world, and he’s got a high IQ, and his ceiling is even higher,like this is only the beginning.” He said, “I think that in his senior year he’ll be a dominant player. And then once in college, as he gets into the strength program, and around guys that are equally as talented, he’ll rise to the occasion. He’s going to be a great player. And I feel blessed and fortunate to have had a chance to work with him.”
Robert Vackar, one of the most prominent businessmen in South Texas, and Janet, his wife, are known for a lot of good things, but above all, for the philanthropic work they do. They put special emphasis on the education that is changing the Valley for the better.
“I am so impressed with Tyler; I talk to a lot of young people in college and Tyler is a humble person,” Vackar said. He commended his parents and grandparents, attending the ceremony, for doing a fantastic job raising this young man. “I think TCU is going to have a real impact on him, but I tried to talk him into choosing A&M. I’m sorry, coach, I tried.”
Tyler’s mom is Debbie Piña also from Edinburg; she told Texas Border Business she had lived here all her life. She is a medical biller and works from home.
“I’m just excited that he gets this opportunity and that he’ll be able to go to college and further his education. I know everybody else focuses on the football, but as a mom, I’m focused on the education part,” she said.
Tyler said it is an eight-hour drive, are you going to go see him play?
“Oh, yes, every game, every game I can. Yes, I have family that lives there, my brother lives up there, my niece, and some cousins. So, I have plenty of places to stay.”
“He’s always been very quiet and very like a teddy bear, a little teddy bear… I am very proud of him. He’s a perfect man, a good young man,” Debbie said.
Vackar said he has known Rick, Tyler’s dad, for 20 years. “His dad used to work for me. His grandmother used to work for me, as well.”
How long have you known Tyler?
“I’ve known him probably for 10, 12 years since he was in grade school. And I’ve watched him grow up and train. And he’s a very impressive young man. Tyler plays for the Edinburg Robert Vela High School, going into his senior year, and he has been recruited by TCU. He’s got like 20-something offers,” he said.
Was he always this tall?
“Yeah, but he used to weigh a lot more. He’s on a program now, he’s reducing body fat and building muscles. So, he’s trimming up, he looks fantastic. He’s got a great, great look, for someone his size he has excellent movement.”
Tyler said, “I used to be eating a 10,000-calorie diet just to try and maintain weight with all the workouts I was doing. I was just trying to pack in as many calories as possible. So, I’m not losing weight, it’s because my workouts are pretty extensive.”
Vackar pointed out that he is proud of Tyler. “I know his parents and grandparents are here. I’m sure the City of Edinburg and Robert Vela High School should be very, very proud of seeing someone going to a tier-1 school. That’s phenomenal.”
Vackar emphasized that it’s good to see the kids down here are getting that kind of attention. “Hopefully we’re starting to see more and more of these scholarships for these students down here.”
Vackar recognizes that this is a great accomplishment that doesn’t happen every year. “How long is this going to take, for another somebody to come along? Tyler is 6’5” tall, and he has been playing football since he was six.”
Tyler, did your father inspire you to take football?
“He played football in high school, ended up going to college, but got injured. Actually, he let me make the decision on my own. He didn’t… nobody pushed me to play football. It was all my decision.”
You love this game?
“Since day one. I played it for 11 years now, I think. I’m going on 15 or 16 seasons. It hasn’t got old for me. It’s more and more fun every season. I’m just excited to see where it goes from here,” Tyler replied.
Lots of universities want you, how do you feel about it?
“I can’t really put it into words, because just six months ago I was sitting there thinking that high school is my last step. I had one more season left in football, and then all of a sudden, I get colleges calling me every day, asking about me. So, it’s unreal to know that I’m going to play at the next level, and I’m excited to see where it goes,” he said.
Tyler will be reporting to TCU as soon as he finishes his senior year. “I’ll be on campus working out with the team this time next year, and then it just depends on whether I’m redshirt my first year or not. Then the next year or two I should be putting on the purple.”
Do you feel sad that you’re going to leave Edinburg?
“Yes, sir. I’ll be leaving friends and family and starting a whole new life up somewhere I don’t know; it’s definitely scary. And I want to stay down here as long as possible, I’m going to cherish my last year down here. But I’m definitely excited to make the next step and or the next move.”
Are you expecting this coming year to be memorable?
“Yes, sir, my last season with Robert Vela High School… Oh, definitely!” he said with a smile.
What are you going to do after football?
“Football, I mean, the ultimate goal is going to go to the NFL. But if that doesn’t happen, I’m planning on getting my business degree in accounting. And hopefully coming back here to start my own company or work with someone else or work in a corporation. I just want to do something with business. I like numbers.”
I heard your father saying that you spent quite a bit of time together driving to different places. How do you feel being so close to your father?
“It’s special, obviously. He plays a big part in my life. He made me, he developed me into who I am today. And without him, I wouldn’t be even close to what I am,” Tyler said.
Are you a religious guy?
“I am. God definitely; He plays a major part in my life. He has a plan for everybody, and I’m truly blessed to be in the position I am,” Tyler stated.
Do you have anything you can convey to my readers?