Ever since they roamed the halls as 8th graders at Chapa Middle School, Brian Prickett and Tyler Henderson have always maintained a strong friendship.
The duo, which lives blocks away from each other, can almost always be seen at each other’s houses. Even when they couldn’t drive cars, the duo rode their bikes together to go and hang out.
Even as the two approach the final months of their senior year, the bond that ties them continued as they made history Wednesday.
By signing their letters of intent Feb. 1, Prickett, who will play football at Howard Payne University, and Henderson, who will play at Baylor University, became the first Lobo football players to participate together on National Signing Day at the same time. Henderson is also the first Lobo football player to sign on with a Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) “Power 5” conference.
Todd Raymond, Lehman High head football coach and athletic coordinator, said the signings signify progress for the program and for the school, which have come as a result of higher expectations.
“We’re on a larger stage, so kids are performing better and getting more recognition,” Raymond said. “It’s a good reflection of where we’re heading as a school. I’m proud of that and I’m proud of them.”
Prickett, who played at left tackle during his four years at Lehman, committed to Howard Payne Sept. 28.
The reasoning was to help rebuild a program that’s gone through a complete coaching overhaul, Prickett said.
In January, HPU hired Braxton Harris as the school’s next head football coach, according to the HPU website. During his time at Texas Lutheran, Harris compiled a 25-5 mark over three years.
For Henderson, the path toward Baylor was not quite as linear.
In summer 2016, Henderson committed to the Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD. But in November 2016, Henderson decided to change his commitment to Oklahoma State.
However, Henderson received an unexpected call from a Baylor recruiting coordinator in January after he said he sent some film to Baylor’s Twitter account.
The coordinator set up a meeting at Lehman where the two talked, where he advised Henderson that he would inform newly hired Baylor head coach Matt Rhule of what he had seen.
Several days later, Henderson said he received an offer from Baylor.
With three offers on the table, Henderson said he and his family, along with Raymond, compiled a pros and cons chart to help him decide.
Ultimately, location was the reason for Henderson choosing Baylor over the other two offers.
“I’m an hour and a half away from home and I can have family at games,” Henderson said. “I’m far away from home, but not too far.”
Henderson said he felt he can be a key part in Rhule’s offensive game plan.
Rhule was hired to helm a Baylor football program that has been mired in controversy following a sexual assault scandal that occurred under former head coach Art Briles.
Briles, along with the school’s athletic director and president, were fired in 2016 as a result of findings from the scandal. According to a Dallas Morning News report, the NCAA is looking into “aspects” of the scandal.
But for Henderson, the thought of making history hasn’t quite hit him yet. The ability to be an inspiration to classes that are coming up is also an important factor.
“Just because they come to Lehman, it doesn’t mean they can’t get a (Division 1) scholarship or a scholarship in general,” Henderson said. “If you put in the hard work, you can do whatever you want to do.”
Raymond said the Lobo coaching staff does “everything they can” to be as “honest and realistic” with student-athletes about playing collegiate football.
“Getting them to understand that it’s possible and getting to raise the bar,” Raymond said. “It’s a continuous battle we’re working on.”
For Prickett, the moment also brought memories of the two teammates years together, from their days as district champions at Chapa to Lehman High.
“Its fun, especially with one of my friends who I consider one of my brothers, to sign on National Signing Day,” he said.
An earlier version of the story said that Henderson and Prickett were the first Lobos to sign letters of intent on National Signing Day. They were actually the first pair of Lobo football players to sign at the same time. We regret the error.