Coming from Harlandale High School in San Antonio, and quite frankly, coming from a very different cultural background, offensive lineman Danny Garza wasn’t sure what to expect when he landed on the Prairie View campus. five years ago.
But right from the start it was embraced and it had a huge impact.
“Coming from an all-Hispanic community to an all-black community was definitely a culture shock, but a big culture shock to be able to experience the black community and be welcomed in such an incredible way,” Garza said. “I’m really grateful for PV.”
It has been an incredible collaboration for both parties.
In Garza, the Panthers got an offensive lineman who came in as a true rookie and started right away and has been a stabilizing presence along the front for the past five years. Garza, meanwhile, got to have an experience he dared not dream of as one of the most decorated football players in the program’s history who will leave The Hill with a bachelor’s and master’s degree completed. , with an eye toward an NFL future.
Not bad for a kid who was raised in a single-parent family where finances were tough and never thought he’d get this far.
“Honestly, I shouldn’t be here,” said Garza, who earned her bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies last fall and has since been working on her master’s in educational administration. “So every day to have the same family encouragement and to have this community from my high school in San Antonio always cheering me on, it’s always a dream come true… It’s really not a dream because I would never have thought I would be this far.
“But my mother always expected me to be this far and my father had the same expectations.”
Garza far exceeded those expectations on and off the football field. As a fifth-year starter, Garza became a perennial All-SWAC player as a center along the Panthers front. He is also an All-American, having been named to the BOXTOROW HBCU Pre-Season All-America Team this summer.
The 6-foot-3, 280-pound Garza was the anchor of an offensive line that allowed the Panthers to be the No. 2 passing offense in SWAC while allowing the fewest sacks in the entire league. league team.
Prairie View offensive line coach Damon Nivens says what sets Garza apart the most is his intelligence and coaching ability.
“He’s a quick learner. You don’t have to repeat over and over trying to get him to understand concepts, angles, numbers and landmarks,” Nivens said. “He’s able to be coachable and work hard at his craft and attack every day like there’s no tomorrow is the biggest difference.
“I just think the kid realizes that this thing is only temporary, so he keeps fighting.”
Garza’s mentality is to play and play as hard as he can and get the most out of his body while he can. This is one of the main reasons why he went back to school when he could have moved on a long time ago. But after the 2020 season was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Garza made the decision to play in the spring season and take advantage of the fifth year the NCAA has allowed due to losing the season. last.
“I always preach to all the guys that football is something that won’t always be there. Your body won’t be able to do the things it does in 10 years, in five years, so I want to take advantage of the ability of my body to compete at a high level and be able to do the things that I do,” he said. “I love football too much to just hang up my boots. I hope I won’t be done with football anytime soon, so I just want to give it my all while my body can still perform at a high level.
Garza said his immediate goal for the season is to help lead the Panthers to the SWAC Championship and the HBCU National Title. He also hopes to put in place the type of season that will open the doors to his greatest dream which is an NFL career.
“To work and keep grinding and playing the best football I can put on tape,” Garza said. “Hopefully in the next six months to a year, I can start talking to scouts and start talking to different teams and give me the best opportunity to pursue the NFL and prepare for life.
“And if that doesn’t work, I have my plan B, which is to fall back on my studies. But really, I want to pursue my dream in the NFL and just represent my community, my family and PV and represent everyone who believed in me.
Along the way, Garza also intends to give back to those who come behind him.
“My motivation has always been the same and it’s basically that I want to influence the next Danny who’s sitting in the same seat as me in freshman year and has these big aspirations of being a student-athlete and getting his school and be a role model,” he said. “I just want to influence the next Danny.”
All of this was possible because Garza took a chance and accepted a full scholarship to an institution he knew little about but now feels the greatest connection to.
“It’s funny because I had never heard of HBCUs, and to be honest, I had never heard of Prairie View when I was in high school, so I had to do my research and learn from it. more about HBCUs,” said Garza, who also had partial scholarship offers at Sam Houston State, Texas A&M-Commerce, and University of Texas-Permian Basin. “It was definitely my offer that excited me because it was an experience.
“I really had no knowledge of what an HBCU was, but to now be a part of it and see the culture and what HBCUs can offer and the different opportunities that come with it is just super exciting. And I hope that in the future, whenever I become a teacher or principal, I can bring more light to HBCUs in San Antonio and publicize it more.