Brandon Dabney enjoyed his special moment on Thursday.
A few weeks earlier, the Modesto Junior College defensive back from Manteca inked on to play NCAA Division I college football this fall for Lamar University.
A signing celebration was held on this day inside the MJC gym for Dabney. In attendance was family consisting of his folks, Lena and Robert, and MJC teammates, coaches and friends. He’s among four Pirates to sign with Division I schools.
“It was cool having everybody there,” said Brandon Dabney, who attributed his religious faith for making moments like this possible.
Beaumont, Texas is home to the Lamar Cardinals of the Southland Conference. Dabney, who plays cornerback and safety, is looking forward to playing under first-year coach Mike Schultz, formerly the offensive coordinator for the high-powered Texas Christian University Horned Frogs.
Schultz is the second coach for Lamar since bringing back football in 2010 after a nearly 20 years hiatus. The Cardinals finished last year with a 3-8 mark.
Dabney, who will leave for Lamar on July 25 — the first day of practice is July 30 – will play for a defense that’s under the directions of assistant coaches Troy Douglas and Melvin Smith.
“It’s whole new coaching staff and program,” he said.
Dabney was thankful to go the junior college route, using that time to grow in more than one.
A 2014 graduate of Manteca High, he spent the last three years at Modesto Junior College, playing football for coach Rusty Stivers that included one year as a gray shirt for personal development.
Dabney, who added 20 pounds to his frame – he was listed at 6-0, 193-pound wide receiver / defensive back during his senior year for the 2013 Sac-Joaquin Section Division III champion Buffaloes — while at the same time setting personal record marks, became both a better football player and student. He led area athletes with 17 pass break-ups and four interceptions his senior.
For MJC, he tallied 48 tackles, two interceptions and a fumble recovery last fall, earning All-Valley Conference first-team honors. Dabney helped the Pirates win the conference championship and finish with an 8-3 record.
“I always knew how to study (game film) for football,” he said. “I learned to treat my studies like (preparing for) a game.”
Dabney received his associates degree in Social & Behavioral Science and will look to pursue Sociology or Criminal Justice at Lamar.
He showed a knack for making the big play or throw down the big hit while playing at MJC. It was enough to attract the likes of Illinois State, Fresno State, Eastern Michigan, and Rhode Island, to name a few.
Sacramento State was also in the running.
Dabney chose Lamar after visiting the school about a month ago, signing on shortly after.
“I wouldn’t have been ready for this coming out of high school. I needed that time (at MJC) to grow, physically and personally,” he said.