HOUSTON — One of the most decorated quarterbacks in Rio Grande Valley history can officially add another honor into his trophy case.
After his selection as the 2018 Mr. Texas Football Player of the Year award winner Dec. 17, Mission Veterans quarterback Landry Gilpin received the towering trophy in person before the 2018 Academy Sports and Outdoors Texas Bowl Thursday at NRG Stadium in Houston.
In 2018, Gilpin threw for 4,544 passing yards and 50 touchdown passes while also rushing for 2,112 yards and 32 touchdowns. He and his family arrived in Houston on Wednesday.
“We’ve had an amazing experience since we’ve arrived in Houston,” Landry Gilpin said. “It’s been an honor to be here.”
Gilpin’s Thursday began with an 11:30 a.m. lunch with Texas Bowl Gridiron Legends including NFL Hall of Famer and Super Bowl champion Curley Culp, continued with an on-air interview with KILT-AM radio in Houston and concluded with the ceremony where Gilpin could finally hold his statewide honor.
“We saw guys with their Super Bowl rings on,” Landry Gilpin said. “Curley Culp had his Super Bowl IV ring on and an NFL Hall of Fame shirt on. Those guys were able to give me some great advice. It’s not something I’ll forget soon.”
David Gilpin, Landry’s father and Mission Veterans coach, said things have settled down since last week. Not only was Landry Gilpin selected as the Mr. Texas Football Player of the Year on Dec. 17, but the Texas Associated Press Sports Editors named Gilpin as the state’s Class 5A Offensive Player of the Year just two days later.
“Here’s a Mission Veterans football player, who happens to be my son, being recognized statewide,” David Gilpin said. “This team just went to the fourth round, which very few Valley teams have done. The importance of that for our program, and Rio Grande Valley football, means that we’ve got really good players and coaches down here.”
Over the past several weeks, Landry Gilpin has gone from well-known in the Valley to well-known around the state. Gilpin went from a few hundred followers on Twitter to nearly 2,000 as of Thursday night.
Hours after Gilpin was named Mr. Texas Football, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz tweeted: “Congratulations to @landrygilpin for winning @MrTexasFootball Player of the Year!” The Senator’s tweet caught the Gilpins off guard.
“That’s one of those things that you never see coming,” Landry Gilpin said. “As soon as I got that notification, I saw it was Senator Ted Cruz but I thought it was a fake account. When I saw his Twitter handle was verified, the first thing I needed to do was thank him, but I needed to call my dad in order to find a more formal way of doing that. Instead of tweeting him with ‘Mr. Cruz,’ I went with ‘Sen. Cruz.’”
“When you’re talking about a Senator, that is awesome,” David Gilpin said. “To have (Dave Campbell’s Texas Football magazine managing editor) Greg Tepper and (Dave Campbell’s Texas Football magazine reporter) Matt Stepp say, ‘This guy’s an incredible football player’ and ‘This team is a team to watch,’ gives us things to build on. We’ve put ourselves in the spotlight and we want those expectations placed on us.”
Assistant coach Jeff Espino was elevated to Mission Veterans’ offensive coordinator when former assistant Lupe Rodriguez became the head coach at PSJA High after the 2016 season. Espino has witnessed Landry Gilpin’s evolution as a quarterback during his junior and senior seasons.
“Landry is a student of the game,” Espino said. “He knows our offense like the back of his hand. He made corrections on routes with our receivers. ‘In this coverage, I’m going to throw this kind of ball, so you need to be in a specific area of the field.’ That’s where he has grown the most.”
Gilpin is one of four kids with a connection to athletics. His brother, Jonathan, played wide receiver at Mission Veterans. Sisters Shania was an all-state volleyball player who spent two seasons at Texas A&M-Kingsville while Thalia is an athletic trainer.
“I come from a very competitive family and my siblings and I jaw at each other about our athletic achievements,” Landry Gilpin said. “Previously, Shania was the top dog in our house. Since I’ve gotten this award, I’m kind of at the top now. Rather than being upset at each other, my siblings have been very supportive. They have been there for me before anyone else outside my family was.”