HARLINGEN — Isaac Alarcón was well known in México for his football skills, but in late April his stardom went through the roof.
Alarcón, 21, a native of Monterrey, Mexico, surprised his more than 20,000 followers on social media by sharing he had been selected as a player for the Dallas Cowboys practice squad.
He was chosen for this opportunity as a part of the International Player Pathway Program started by the NFL in 2017.
Along with Alarcón, three other international players will be joining NFL teams. According to the NFL official website, David Bada will join the Washington Redskins, Matt Leo, the Philadelphia Eagles and Sandro Platzgumme, the New York Giants.
Alarcón is the only player from Mexico in this group.
Standing at 6 feet, 6 inches and 320 pounds, Alarcón is the perfect offensive lineman but he shows humbleness through his words and stresses his achievements to be gifts from God.
In order for this dream to come true, he had to achieve smaller goals, and in an interview with the Valley Morning Star done in his native Spanish, he told his story.
Alarcón is known for being a national football champion in México.
He gained a football scholarship to play for the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education.
During his college career he started as a right and left tackle. In 2019, he contributed to the school winning the Mexican college football national championship with “Los Borregos Salvajes.”
In 2016, he helped the México team earn a bronze medal at the Under-19 World Championship held in China.
Evidently, his talent was well known and promising.
The International Player Pathway Program was not unfamiliar to him, in fact he had a close connection to it.
In 2019, Máximo González, another player from the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education, had the opportunity to be a part of the program and attend the training camp.
“He played in three world cups and he was considered the best defensive lineman in México. He was invited first but they asked him if he knew another Mexican he considered good. He talked about me, told them my height and weight, showed them my videos and gave them my contacts,” he said.
“Then, around June or July of 2019 the scouts came to Monterrey and invited me and my family for dinner. They gave me the proposal for the next year, but I had just had surgery from a cyst in my back; that worried them,” Alarcón said.
Around December 2019, Alarcón did trials of how fast he could run and jump in his native Monterrey.
After two weeks, he received a call to congratulate him on entering the program.
“In January, I traveled to Florida to train with them and then the Cowboys selected me, thank God,” he said.
“The cool thing about the International Program is you know for sure from nine in the program, four will be selected. That’s how in the end they selected four and thank God I was one of them.”
Alarcón said the feeling was sort of like when you take a test that you studied really hard for but you don’t know if you aced it.
“That’s how it felt. At the beginning I could not believe it, ‘No te cae el veinte,’” he said in Spanish, a common phrase used to say something has not dawned on you.
“Now realizing I am an NFL player makes me think I have to start training because of that spot,” he said.
Because of COVID-19, his training was uncertain, but Alarcón said he was supposed to leave for training in late May.
He starts as a reserve, but if luck and fate turns out in his favor, Alarcón can move up on the roster.
Talking about his passion of the sport, he shared the second biggest football fan base is in México.
Knowing the fan base is both monumental on both sides of the border, Alarcón said he feels responsible to not lose his humbleness and focus.
“Not losing the focus, which is showing more Mexicans can get over here,” he said, ready to tackle not only players but his new duty.
Amid the football stardom, Alarcón is still a college student. He has not graduated yet but he said he will. He is studying for a major in engineering — automotive design.
“Since I was a little boy I’ve always liked cars and it is a career I like very much. They teach you how to create an engine, what fuels to use, etc.,” he said.
“I am one of those who believes you have to study and have your career because you can’t run after a ball all your life,” Alarcón said.
Though he believes running after a ball cannot last forever, Alarcón has been doing so since he was 13 years old.
Besides football, he tried other sports such as baseball, basketball and boxing, but Alarcón said he wasn’t that good.
“I don’t think I would have gotten this far in any other sport,” he said.
For him, the best part about football is the companionship.
“From the start when you are on a team you take it as a fact you will have 70 friends, 70 brothers. You train with them, they understand what you are going through, how much it costs to put on that helmet,” Alarcón said.
“It is not a team where just one shines. If you want to win it depends on everyone and I like that a lot,” he said.
He started off as a tight end, but he said he was bad. Once he arrived to his college team, he changed to offensive lineman.
“I noticed it was easy for me to block, I felt stronger. Little by little we started growing,” he said.
Now that Alarcón has gained a fandom and several interviews and articles, he is known as a football star.
However, his goal has never been to be famous.
“I like the life I lived before. It’s cool because you get to send a message and people can identify with you and you can help them grow. But fame is not my principal motivation,” Alarcón said.
Football is something his family is accustomed to. He is the second of three brothers who are all football players as well.
“We played for the same team, the three of us. They are super happy for me but nothing has changed in my house. They say they don’t care I’m an NFL player now and I like that. We are all the same,” he said.
Alarcón’s talent might be innate but he recognizes his team “Borregos Salvajes” as the pavement of his skills and endurance.
“Sometimes we would train and people would faint or vomit, but I think I was ready to train in Florida, but it was still hard. We would train five hours a day but I also learned how to study the game,” he said.
Alarcón stayed in Florida for two months and says he knows he will miss his family, the food and his people when he leaves.
“Nothing like home,” he said in Spanish.
In late April, he received a Zoom video call where he was officially congratulated by the Cowboys.
The Valley Morning Star reached out to the public relations team of the Dallas Cowboys.
Scott Agulnek, Director of Football Communications of the team, provided statements done by Will McClay, VP of player personnel for the Dallas Cowboys in his call to Alarcón.
“Hey, Isaac I wanted to say congratulations to you on behalf of the Jones family, Coach McCarthy and Cowboys Nation. We are excited to have you join us, a player from Mexico,” said McClay in a four way call with Alarcón, James Cook, and Will Bryce, Head of Football Development.
“This is a big deal for Mr. Jones. We wanted to look at players and he was excited about the opportunity to have you number one as a player and a prospect of offensive line and join our group,” McClay said.
“We’ve got the best offensive line in the NFL. We think you’ll be able to learn from that and represent Mexico well. We are proud of our Mexican tradition, Cowboys and Mexico have a long history together. Fifty-four percent of Mexican Americans are Cowboys fans,” he said.
In the video, Alarcón appears nervous but excited. He slowly pulls out a Dallas Cowboys cap from behind him as he speaks to McClay.
“Now for me to be a player with you it’s like a miracle. I am so grateful, thank you so much for the trust. I promise you will not be disappointed of me,” Alarcón said.
The future seems bright and expectations are high based on what he has demonstrated and the team is taking notes.
“From watching your tape and listening to all the guys I know you have some things that you can help with and we can help you grow. It’s an opportunity of a lifetime,” McClay said.