When Troup High senior midfielder Juan Herrera signed a soccer scholarship with Point University on Wednesday afternoon it was a game-changer for sure.
“Without this scholarship I wouldn’t be going to college. I was planning to go into the military, but I had a friend who got in touch with the coach (at Point). He liked the way I played, and he liked my skills,” said Herrera.
The rest is Skyhawk history. The 5-foot-6 Herrera is now a soccer recruit instead of a military recruit.
“Soccer is not about a player’s size or his (or her) height. It’s about how hard he (or she) plays,” said Herrera, who scored nine goals this season for the Troup High Tigers. “I’m a playmaker. I make a lot of the right decisions.”
The Skyhawks, who play the NAIA brand of soccer, know what they are getting with Herrera. He is a raw talent at 18 years of age. Herrera is smart and robust. He has a 3.6 grade point average at Troup, and he has a guaranteed roster spot on the Point University men’s soccer team.
In the very near future, Herrera will have a lot of green grass to cover in order to get into the Skyhawks lineup on the varsity or the junior team in West Point. The Skyhawks play in the rough and bloody Appalachian Athletic Conference.
“Our conference is very physical, and our team is very possession oriented. Juan has the mental maturity, and he could pick up a lot of assists (in college),” said Skyhawks Head Coach Jonathan Lenarz.
Point University Assistant Coach Jon Callahan thinks Herrera could make an impact quite early in his college career. Callahan and Lenarz don’t doubt Herrera’s soccer skills.
“Juan has good vision, and he has a clean first touch,” said Callahan.
Herrera is signing on with a soccer program that has had a few lapses and disappointments as of late, including a 5-11-1 season last year. But the Skyhawks are having a good recruiting season. They plan to dress out between 26 and 28 players next fall.
There will be competition at Point University, and Herrera isn’t afraid of flying elbows and blocking below the waist.
“Juan is a year-round player. He has put in a ton of effort. He is a great student and a good athlete. He does a good job of reading the keeper (goalkeeper). Juan is a coachable player, and Point is a good fit for him,” said Jase Crenshaw, the head coach of the Troup High boys soccer team (9-7-1).
Chris Fernsler Sports Writer