Jalen Pitre, a 2017 graduate of Stafford High, has an extra reason to be grateful this holiday season.
Pitre, a Baylor University sophomore outside linebacker, will get an opportunity to play in the Texas Bowl at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 27, at NRG Stadium in Houston. The Bears (6-6) will play Vanderbilt University (6-6) from the Southeastern Conference (SEC).
“It’s very exciting – it couldn’t have played out better for my family and I,” Pitre said. “I will have a chance to play 10 minutes from my house.”
Pitre expects to have approximately 10-to-15 family members and friends at the game, which will be his first time playing at the home of the NFL’s Houston Texans. Over the past two years, Pitre played two regular season games at AT&T Stadium in Arlington – home of the Dallas Cowboys. The annual Baylor-Texas Tech game is played there, and this year, the Bears clinched a bowl game by defeating the Red Raiders.
Pitre was a three-year starter for Stafford and a senior on the best team in school history in 2016. The Spartans reached the UIL Class 4A state quarterfinals – the farthest football playoff run in school history. Pitre was one of several 2017 graduates to play football at the next level, including part of a record three Football Bowl Series level players, along with receiver Hezekiah Jones (Texas A&M) and running back/receiver Cam Montgomery (Rice).
Pitre was a safety at Stafford, but quickly became a linebacker for head coach Matt Rhule’s Bears. He is 6 feet tall and 206 pounds.
“The transition has been pretty good so far,” Pitre said. “The coaches thought it would be better for me to play outside linebacker, and it fits better for my type of play.”
Pitre has 48 tackles (including five tackles for a loss) in his career, but his most impressive statistic is a 3.21 grade point average. He is majoring in marketing and management, with plans of earning a master’s degree after graduation.
The Bears have gone from 1-11 to 6-6 in one season. Pitre said he enjoys the opportunity of playing in a competitive conference like the Big 12. He played opposite the past two Heisman Trophy winners – Oklahoma quarterbacks Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray, respectively.
Football is about family for Pitre, whose older brother and fellow Stafford graduate, Jerick, is a linebacker for Incarnate Word in San Antonio. The Cardinals reached the Football Championship Series playoffs for the first time in school history.
If all goes as planned, next Thursday won’t be Pitre’s final game at NRG Stadium. The Bears are set to play another SEC opponent, Mississippi, in the 2020 Texas Kickoff (season opener), which would be the first game of Pitre’s senior season.