PHARR — PSJA North senior Frankie Saucedo, who was a standout offensive lineman, powerlifter and track and field athlete for the Raiders, has signed with Texas Lutheran, a Division III university in Seguin, to continue his football and academic career.
“It’s definitely a dream come true,” Saucedo said. “I mean, ever since I was a little kid, I saw college football games and it always drew my attention. Once I felt like it was possible, nothing was stopping me after that.”
The Raiders’ left guard started receiving recruiting interest as a sophomore, but it wasn’t until his senior year that a TLU recruiter visited campus and sold him on the Bulldogs’ program.
“I think the first time I got introduced, one of the recruiters came to our school to talk to me, and I was really confused because I had had a rough day at school, but it was really nice for them to come talk to me and my teammates,” Saucedo said. “He won me over because he was such a nice guy and we had a cool conversation.”
Saucedo, who had a hand in everything from student council to the drama department at PSJA North, made a significant impact on the gridiron as a four-year varsity letterman and three-year starter along the Raiders’ imposing offensive line.
He quickly found himself entrenched with North’s veteran lineman, a position group that has earned a reputation for being fiercely physical and relentlessly imposing between the lines.
Saucedo credits his development into one of the Valley’s most dominant run blockers in large part due to being thrown into the fire as an underclassman trying to match the intensity of veterans and corral the Raiders’ bruising blackshirt defense in practice.
“It was definitely part of my freshman year since I practiced with the varsity team my freshman year. It was coach (William) Littleton’s first year and all those seniors were giving me a lot of experience,” he said. “I remember coach Littleton always put the best players up front and every practice was just like a game. Spring ball was fun because we were just going at it and we had guys like Seven (Sanchez), Aaron (Alvarez), those great guys who made us compete to the best of our capabilities.”
That baptism by fire forged Saucedo into an elite starting interior lineman and an integral part of the Raiders’ 2018 run to the area round of the playoffs.
PSJA North found itself sitting at 2-3 at the season’s midpoint after a disappointing start, but flipped the switch and won five of its next six contests before falling in an overtime area-round loss to San Benito.
Through that seven game stretch, thanks to the play of North’s offensive line as well as running backs Arturo Beltran and Isaac Gonzalez and quarterback Izaiah Rangel, the Raiders topped the 200-yard mark in every game and for a combined 2,093 yards, more than five District 30-6A teams tallied that entire season.
“We all stuck together, we went on and nobody thought we were going to go on a run when we lost our rival Bears and we just kept our heads high,” Saucedo said. “I think it was the first time in nine years that our school won a playoff game, so a whole lot of people were there. That whole week leading up to the game it was just fun and we were all excited because a lot of us had not been in that position. It was just a great game. It was a sold-out game, great atmosphere and even though we lost, it was still one of the most fun games I’ve played in.”
Saucedo also immersed himself in his studies both on and off the field in an effort to become a more well-rounded student and lineman. It paid off for Saucedo under the bright lights and in the classroom, as he graduates from PSJA North with an associates degree and as part of the top 10% of his class and plans to major in kinesiology to stake out a career in sports in the Rio Grande Valley.
“Growing up in middle school, it was just easy and all you had to do was block right or block left. Then when I got to high school, I was with the freshman team and I was hit with all these rules and playbooks and I didn’t know Xs or Os or anything,” he said. “It definitely took a lot of studying. (Our coaches) taught me about the tiny things that made us a great offensive line and I’ve got to thank Cody Jones and coach (Marcus) Kaufmann for that as well as coach (Jeffrey) LeFevere. They all taught us that it matters and I’m taking that to the college level.”