They say you never forget your first love, and I think for most Texans, that first love is football.
My football career started the way it did for many Texans, watching high school football games and learning about the game from my brother and my father under the Friday Night Lights.
Once I got to strap on my own helmet, I relished every moment I got.
If you’ve never played or watched high school football in Texas, it’s a big deal. It’s unlike any other high school sport. Being a part of it, you feel this tremendous sense of pride, responsibility, and joy.
I loved it.
But before I knew it, my high school years flew by, and the college offers began trickling in.
I always kept an eye out for a Texas university letter to arrive in the mail, but unfortunately, it just never happened.
I got injured my junior year and missed out on a lot of playing time to get on more coaches’ radar.
I started coming to grips with the fact that I’d have to leave the Lone Star State if I wanted to pursue my dreams.
And so I did.
Leaving home is always hard, but the University of North Carolina made the process easy. They supported me one hundred percent and made me feel welcome as a Tar Heel, you know?
My first couple of seasons at UNC were great. I was learning a lot and working as hard as I could to improve my game.
Every year I was getting more time, touches, and responsibility.
Heading into my senior year in 2020, I thought it would be my year, my moment to break out and truly show what I could do.
But that’s when things started to fall apart.
The incident happened at Fall camp.
It was just your typical practice play. Nothing out of the ordinary.
But at the end of it, I felt a pull on my muscle.
I checked it with our medical staff, and they confirmed it was a hernia injury.
I had two options at the time. Surgery and miss the rest of the year, or try to play through it.
I went with option #2, and man, it was brutal.
I’m taking pain medication, having teammates help me get through my practice reps, and just trying to make it from one gameday to another.
It got to the point where I struggled getting up and walking around in the morning.
It all caught up to me, and I had to have the surgery and be out for the season after just playing in a few games.
Certainly not how I intended my last year in college football to go.
Little did I know that this was just the beginning.
UNC gave me the best care possible.
I went to Philadelphia, where they had some of the best sports hernia treatments, and had my surgery in December 2020.
Unfortunately, during the rehab process, an MRI confirmed that I had calcium deposits from the first surgery.
So, I needed another surgery just a few months after my first, in February of 2021.
The doctors recommended shaving off the calcium deposits because they feared something could happen with my nerves around that pelvic area.
For a while, things started to look up.
I wasn’t at a hundred percent but at first, I just thought it takes a bit longer to recover than expected. But once things continued to worsen again, I decided to get another MRI.
They found more calcium deposits and left me with pretty much the same decision I had to make back in 2020 — another surgery and miss the season or play through it.
Given my experiences in 2020, I opted for the surgery.
So, in August of 2021, I had surgery #3.
You can imagine, it was a painful decision and frustrating to have three procedures stacked one after another.
It wasn’t easy to stay positive, I can tell you that.
By that time, I haven’t been healthy in well over a year and when all you want to do is show the world what you’re capable of — it’s hard on your psyche.
Sometimes, I’d wonder, “why me?”
I relied on my faith to guide me.
I reminded myself that not everything is meant to be understood while we are experiencing it.
In due time it would all make sense.
That mindset kept me going.
Fortunately, the surgery and rehab were much more successful this time, but it cost me the entire season.
After going through all this, I knew I was coming back for another year.
Question was — where?
When you are rehabbing, you have a lot of alone time.
This can be a gift or a curse.
I used this time to think about what I wanted to do next.
I started feeling as though God was calling me back home, that it was time to play football in Texas for Texas.
I talked with my coaches at UNC about this, and they were very supportive.
It’s a bummer that I was just rehabbing the last couple of years, and I wasn’t going to get another healthy year in North Carolina, but that’s life sometimes.
To gain something, you must give something up, and to say hello again to Texas, I had to say goodbye to UNC.
I’m so grateful that I had their blessing and that they helped me during this transition process.
I spent all of November/December figuring out where my next destination was, and ultimately, I signed with SMU.
Now I’m healthy at the Hilltop, and I couldn’t be happier.
I’ve fulfilled the dream I had as a child, a dream I let go of many years ago, only to find myself achieving it today, in 2022, year six of my collegiate career.
We all go through our struggles, trials and tribulations, and dark times, but remember the night is darkest just before dawn.
If you work hard, lean on your family and friends, and have a little faith, anything is possible, and everything can be overcome.
The work will continue; new unknown challenges await me, but I can’t wait to tackle them on and play the best ball of my life as a Mustang, a Texan, and as Beau Corrales.
I’m so excited to call SMU home now.
Let’s go Mustangs!