This Mexican university is an NFL factory
Tec de Monterrey is a Mexican college football powerhouse, and their influence is starting to spread a little more to the NFL.
If you take a look at most Mexican players who have competed in the NFL, they have one thing in common: They all went to Tec de Monterrey.
The Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education (ITESM), known simply as Tec or Tec de Monterrey, is widely recognized as one of the most prestigious universities in the region and is sometimes regarded as the Latin American MIT. According to many sources, it is the best university in Mexico.
Isaac Alarcón, liniero ofensivo de los Borregos del Tec de Monterrey, representará a México en el NFL International Player Pathway Program.
¡Mucho éxito! pic.twitter.com/wP1Uuy75pN
— NFL México (@nflmx) December 9, 2019
But unlike MIT, their football program is the best in the country. Known as Borregos (bighorn sheep), they win almost everywhere. Just the Monterrey campus alone has claimed fifteen national titles. Adding up the titles of each campus, ITESM is undoubtedly the dominant force in Mexican college football.
How is Tec so good at football?
Let’s analyze four aspects that explain why the school is so good on the gridiron.
Football has always been an important aspect of Tec de Monterrey’s culture, and being the most expensive university in the country means that they have some extra cash to spare. That is why they can afford American coaches and trainers to lead the team, giving them a leg up on their opponents.
🏈 🏆 | #MomentosCONADEIP
En diciembre de 2011 los Borregos del Tec de Monterrey, del HC Frank González, obtuvieron el título de la Liga Premier de FBA luego de vencer 34-3 al Tec de MTY CEM en el emparrillado del Estadio Tecnológico. pic.twitter.com/cH1h5CmPYH
— CONADEIP México (@CONADEIPmx) June 17, 2020
Coaches like Leroy Willeford, Brooks Conover, Barry Copenhaver, and Frank González (who has been with the university for over 30 years) have made sure that students are trained the way they would be north of the border.
Tec de Monterrey has 26 campuses spread throughout the country, and most of them have a football program. This means that there are many spaces to develop talent in almost every state in the county.
Because of this, there is not one Borregos team, but several. That is why different Tec campuses will often play against each other in postseason tournaments. Additionally, they also have teams for high school-age students, so students get indoctrinated in the Borrego style of play way before college starts.
There are two collegiate leagues in the country: Organización Nacional Estudiantil de Fútbol Americano (ONEFA) and the Comisión Nacional Deportiva Estudiantil de Instituciones Privadas (CONADEIP). Tec de Monterrey competes in both, with some campuses in one league and others in the opposite. Being exposed to two leagues with different calendars means that players are considerably more seasoned than their rivals in other schools, as there’s never a time when Borregos are not playing football.
Universities like Notre Dame, Ohio State, or Alabama are known primarily because of their strong football programs and not their academic prowess. Since a talented player may have hopes of playing in the NFL, he might decide to go to a school that serves that goal instead of getting the best education possible.
In Mexico, while there is a professional league, it is unlikely a player will choose his school with that goal in mind. They will, however, take the chance of studying at the best university in the country for free in hopes of getting a good job after hanging up the cleats. In a reversal from the American model, Tec de Monterrey has the upper hand in attracting the best talent available.
The results speak for themselves
Right now, the NFL has two former Borregos who joined the leagued through the International Player Pathway Program: Isaac Alarcón (OT, Dallas Cowboys) and Alfredo Gutiérrez (OT, San Francisco 49ers).
Rolando Cantú, former guard for the Arizona Cardinals, also graduated from ITESM. Manuel Padilla (LB, Denver Broncos), Ramiro Pruneda (OT, Kansas City Chiefs), and Mauricio “Tyson” López (DT, Philadelphia Eagles) all donned the Borregos uniform before joining their respective NFL practice squads.
Maybe I am a bit biased because I am a former Borrego myself (LG, Campus Toluca), but the numbers don’t lie. And the degree served me well after my days in the field were over. So was going to Tec the best decision for me? Undeniably. And other talented players will do well in following suit.