On the dotted line: Three Wildcats sign college letters to play football
Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor

Feb. 1, 2006 - Jose Vargas had been all smiles Wednesday morning as he signed a full scholarship to play football for Iowa State. But, he had to wipe away the tears when his father, Jose G. Vargas, talked about how proud he was of his son.

Vargas was the most high profile of the three Sulphur Springs Wildcats to sign college letters of intent on National Signing Day as he inked his scholarship to a Big 12 university. Right after he signed, ISU head coach Dan McCarney called to welcome him aboard.

No less proud of their sons were the parents of Cole Strawn, who signed a letter with Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, Mo., and Torrence Wright, who will join his brother, Rolaundo, at Arkansas Tech.

The elder Vargas moved his family to Sulphur Springs from Los Angeles to provide a safer environment when Jose was just 7-years-old. It was the Wildcats' gain.

Vargas (6-4, 330) was a two-year starter at left tackle, a First Team All-State player and a Super Team Second Team selection. A gentle giant off the field, he is all business between the lines, said SSHS offensive line coach Carl Hornback.

"Jose is huge, and his athletic ability is far beyond what it should be for a kid his size. He's a great athlete and a great asset," Hornback said. "His offensive line coach over there, from the first time he met Jose, he fell in love with him and has really courted Jose the whole time. I think Jose has a chance to step in there and play a whole lot for him."

Vargas, who may be moved to guard in college, said he will major in business.

Hornback also saw another of his proteges, Torrence Wright, sign a Division II offer. Wright had verbally committed to Central Arkansas, but changed this mind over the weekend to join his brother, wide receiver Rolaundo Wright, at Arkansas Tech.

"I think the recruiters all liked his footwork, his size, his strength and his work ethic. That kid works hard. I wouldn't tell you he did if he didn't," Hornback said. "I think if you have a kid who's big, has good feet, is athletic to begin with, and works hard, there is nothing else you can ask for. They'll take him for four years or five years and he'll get even better."

Wright (6-3, 290) has grown not only in stature but in strength over the last year. He was named First Team All-State by the Texas Sports Writers Association, a testament to the hard work he has put in.

"I believe this summer was when I really thought I'd be playing college football," said Wright, who will major in business. "We had summer workouts, and in the summer was when I started getting bigger, stronger and faster."

Strawn, the son of Brad and Amie Strawn, was another two-year starter for the Cats, though he changed positions for his senior season. An All-District offensive lineman as a junior, he earned All-District honors his senior season as defensive lineman.

He will play on the defensive line for Southwest Baptist, a Division II university where he will major in psychology with a sports emphasis.

"Playing college football has been a dream of mine for a long time," Strawn said. "The fit with Southwest Baptist just seemed to come together."

Strawn's athletic ability combined with his work ethic and good grades made him a good fit for the Bearcats, said defensive line coach Larry Sherman.

"Cole did a great job," Sherman said. "He's very coachable, and they're lucky to get him."

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