January 7, 2008

Haliburton proud to be a Red Raider

It's hard to find a more storybook recruiting tale than the one painted by the recruitment of local stars Seth Doege and Ryan Haliburton. Both Doege and Haliburton hail from Wolfforth, TX, which is merely miles away from Texas Tech's campus, and both have followed the Red Raiders for some time. Haliburton in particular has dreamed of donning the Red and Black for as long as he can remember.

"It's exciting, it's really exciting," explained the three-star defensive end. "I can't tell you how proud I am to have this opportunity. I've always bled red and black and I'm just excited to come be a part of this team and help out on defense. It really is a dream come true."

Though playing for Tech is a dream of Haliburton's, going to Texas Tech on a full ride to play football is a big hit with the folks as well.

"My family is extremely proud of me," he laughed. "All of them are huge Tech fans and they're excited that I get to be a part of something they love so much."

Haliburton was one of Tech's first commits in the 2008 class and has been solid to the Red Raiders for nearly a year, but having recently graduated from high school, the realization of what's to come is finally hitting the 6-foot-4, 240-pound athlete.

"It hit me during the Gator Bowl, I was so proud to be a Red Raider," said Haliburton, who made the trip to Jacksonville for the game. "I never lost faith and I don't know how to say it, but it just felt really good to get that win. It was a really gutsy effort."

He was also glad to walk out of the Gator Bowl with a win so he wouldn't have to hear it from Virginia fans, who had done little before the game to impress the Tech commit.

"I don't know what it was," laughed the good-natured defensive end. "But as soon as we got there I kept overhearing Virginia fans talking smack about how we couldn't win and this and that, and from then on I just didn't like their fans very much, so that felt good to be able to walk out of there with a big smile on my face."

Though it won't come as a surprise to most who keep up with RedRaiderSports.com, Virginia fans weren't the only people Haliburton came across during his travels to Florida.

"Seeing Julio Jones was a little crazy," he chuckled. Though there have been some reports that Jones had an entourage and a "handler" who wouldn't allow people to talk to or touch Mr. Jones, Haliburton says that's 100% inaccurate. "No, it wasn't anything like that, he didn't have any handlers or anything, it was just him and some of his friends."

So what exactly did happen?

"Well, we were sitting on the plane and I saw three big guys walk on the plane, and I could kinda tell they were football players," he explained. "I actually talked to one of them on the plane and then I realized that one of them was apparently Julio Jones towards the end. Then I heard one of them say something like, 'Julio isn't signing autographs right now,' or something like that, so I was going to go up and introduce myself but they got on this train and right before we could get over there, the train shut its doors and left, so we just missed them. But he didn't have a handler or an entourage or anything like that, it was just some guys who were going to play in that all-star game I think."

In the end, there was one thing that stood out about his time in Florida.

"I'm glad I got to see Chris Long play in person," said an impressed Haliburton. "I've never seen a defensive end like that. He was what, like, 6-foot4, 270? I'm just looking at him and thinking about how much I have to learn. It blew me away. I hope one day I can be that kind of player, so watching him just made me a little more motivated. I know I want to work and not take any time off. I just want to work as hard as I can to hit my goals and become the best player I can possibly be, and watching him was just, I don't know, it just made me want to work that much harder."

Not that Red Raider fans didn't already know, but for those who haven't been paying attention, Tech got themselves a winner when they snagged Mr. Haliburton, and it looks like he's bent on doing whatever he can to make sure his storybook tale doesn't end any time soon.

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