El Campo Ricebirds senior Matthew Van Gorp didn’t have the best start to the football season, after getting injured in the team’s opening scrimmage. That didn’t stop him from ending his season as part of a dominating defense and earning a college scholarship.
Van Gorp in February with his family and friends watching signed his national letter of intent committing himself to play at Texas Lutheran University.
Following his, the senior Ricebird worked hard to make his way back onto the field and even made a position switch moving from center to defensive end. The Ricebird senior played well and helped make a strong defense, even better. Now, Van Gorp is the first El Campo football player this year to sign with a college to continue his athletic career.
“I was always in the back of my head thought that I could go somewhere,” Van Gorp said with a smile after signing. “I always had hope.”
That hope turned into a reality for Van Gorp as a junior when he started adding his game film to a recruiting website. While Van Gorp began to get contacted by schools, his offer came by chance. Texas Lutheran was not a school that had contacted Van Gorp, but the coach had come by to see El Campo’s Head Coach Wayne Condra who had told him of Van Gorp.
The Ricebird senior met the Texas Lutheran coach and Van Gorp was sold on going to their program and once again, making another position change to play outside linebacker.
“(The Texas Lutheran coach) seemed really interested in the fit,” Van Gorp said. “They run a 3-4 and I’ll fit in. The position they want me at is pretty versatile.”
Condra, who went to Texas Lutheran also thought Van Gorp would be a good fit.
“The position they’re going to play him in fits him perfect,” Condra said. “He can walk up and play a defensive end and be an edge rusher or he can drop back and go in coverage.”
While schools from out of state reached out to Van Gorp, ultimately, the fit at Texas Lutheran along with their homely atmosphere sold him to sign.
Texas Lutheran is a Division III school and they went 8-2 last season. Their lone conference loss to Mary-Hardin Baylor kept them out of the Division III playoffs.
“I’m pretty excited and anxious. I’m ready to see what (playing in college) is all about,” Van Gorp said.
At Texas Lutheran, Van Gorp plans to major in Kinesiology with the hopes of becoming a football coach after he finishes school. While Condra didn’t push him towards Texas Lutheran or even know that Van Gorp wanted to be a coach. Unknowingly, the Ricebird senior is following his route, maybe one day his path will lead back to El Campo.