MIDLOTHIAN

When Jack Freeman officially inked his National Letter of Intent to play football for Major Applewhite at the University of Houston, he continued to add to his list of “firsts.”

Freeman was an integral offensive and defensive lineman for the upstart Midlothian Heritage football team that played in its first varsity season in 2016. The Jaguars then won their first game, first district championship and first playoff game that season.

The 6-foot-3, 278-pound senior was then selected to the Associated Press 4A all-state first team — another first — after recording 73 knockdowns with zero sacks allowed. He also became a two-star recruit on both Rivals and 247Sports.

This season, the Jaguars finished 12-1 after a 45-43 loss to Kennedale in the 4A quarterfinals. They made their first undefeated run (10-0) through the regular season, too. Freeman was an AP 4A honorable mention.

Last Wednesday, Freeman became the first student-athlete from Midlothian Heritage to sign with a university that competes in the Division-I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) — the highest classification for college football. This year is also the first year for the NCAA to hold an early signing period for football since 1981, as the NCAA competition committee previously decided to host the day on the first Wednesday (initially the third but later changed) of February, states an April 2017 ESPN article.

"We just want to congratulate Jack for being the first FBS commitment that we have had here. There will be many more, but he is laying the foundation. This is a really cool day," said Midlothian Heritage head football coach Lee Wiginton to the throng of students seated on the home side of the Heritage gymnasium Wednesday, Dec. 20.

Freeman was quick to admit that the magnitude of his signing “has not really sunk in yet” but thinks it is “definitely cool to be able to say you are the first one, ever.”

"Today is really special. This is the only time I am ever going to be able to do this in my life, and I am very happy with my decision to be in Houston for the next four or five years,” Freeman explained. “I'm really glad that I chose Houston because I love it down there and the environment. I love all of the coaches, too. All of the recruits get along really good, and we already have a really strong bond, so it is really special."

After watching a highlight film chalk-full of punishing pancake blocks and a photo-op session with family and friends, Freeman said he would miss the brotherhood forged by the Jaguars over the last two years. He then thanked those who helped get him to this point in his career.

"First and foremost, I obviously want to thank God because we wouldn't be here without Him. I also want to thank my grandpa, too. He isn't with us anymore, but he always pushed me to be better than what I am. There is always room for improvement."

Freeman, a two-year academic all-district honoree, also thanked his family and coaches, who all served as inspirations that helped to build his character and work ethic.

"They all just really helped me mature, and not only in football but as a man as well," Freeman explained. "I also want to thank my family and friends for always being so supportive and never giving up on me."