Breylon Garcia decided it was time for a change.

Garcia played defensive end his freshman year at Lufkin, but switched to receiver his sophomore season because coaches noted his speed. Now entering his senior season, he's going back to his original position full time.

“I like defense a lot better," Garcia said. "I like hitting instead of being hit.”

Garcia played intermittently at defensive end in 2017, but spent the majority of his time on offense. He suffered a broken leg during a playoff game against Richardson Pearce in the area round. He watched from the sidelines as the Panthers advanced to the regional final to face rival Longview, only to fall a point shy of advancing.

“That was the worst part," he said. "It was all right watching them win. But sitting up in the stands watching them helpless, you can’t do anything and you see them making mistakes. We end up losing by one point. I could have made a difference in the game.”

Garcia spent the next four months out of school, confined to his bed. He was finally cleared to return to physical activity in March but still has a rod and four screws in his leg.

He has wasted no time in getting back in football shape. He still has a long way to go to get back the strength he lost from the injury, but teams are already beginning to take notice. He already has offers from Arkansas State, Nevada and Southern Miss, among other schools.

"At first, I was on a roll," Garcia said. "Colleges were hitting me up like crazy and once I broke it they stopped for a minute. Once I started getting back on my feet, a lot of them said they would have already offered, but they’re trying to see if I can get up to 100 percent. The mental aspect has been pretty hard."

Garcia (6-4, 215) said he plans to hold off on his commitment to see which schools offer him during the season. He lists Arizona and Texas as Power 5 schools yet to offer that have expressed interest. He has already visits Texas and Oklahoma State.

“Texas, I grew up watching them," he said. "It’s one of those colleges you always want to go to. Arizona, since Kevin Sumlin went there. I always liked him. He’s gonna do something up there.”

Playing time and winning games are at the top of Garcia's list when it comes to making a college decision. However, he also wants a school that will allow him to pursue a chemical engineering degree. Although he knows playing football and pursue such a demanding degree won't be easy, he's up to the challenge.

“I always liked chemicals and solutions, plus I’m good at math," he said. "You go to college, it’s not just football. You’ve got to sacrifice.”

Luckily, when Garcia takes the field next season he'll be surrounded by talent on defense. Fellow defensive end Javasia Brunson and defensive tackle Carl Williams both have Power 5 offers, making for what should be unequivocally the best defensive front in East Texas.

“You could be out a play and you know those two are relentless," he said. "If you somehow miss your assignment on one side, Javasia is good on the edge. It’ll buy you time. We’re very competitive toward each other. Everybody’s trying to get the first sack and get more tackles.”

2020 defensive back Jerrin Thompson also has scholarship offers, and a number of other Panthers are back on defense. It's safe to assume it won't be easy to score on Lufkin in 2018.

With the players coming back, Garcia isn't limiting expectations. That goes for the team and for himself.

“I’ve got a bigger chip on my shoulder, especially after the way we lost in the playoffs," he said. "I’m trying to get those Power 5s. I’m trying to put everything on the line. The team we have now is gonna be crazy. Our whole D-Line and our defense period. I honestly think we can win state with our defense.”

East Texas 25 Class of 2019

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