This is the moment he has been working for since he was a child. He is achieving his dream. A rush of emotions flow through his mind, but he focuses in on the task.
The ball snaps, and immediately, the NFL defensive line pummels him; the Center. He fights them off with all of his might, determined to protect his quarterback.
“Compared to college, the NFL is a completely different level of football,” said Grace Prep alumn Jacob Flores. “As soon as you snap the ball, the other team is right on you.”
Earlier this year, Flores, who plays on the practice squad as Center for the Green Bay Packers, was an undrafted free agent. Green Bay sought him out not only because of his talent, but also because of his ability to think on his feet.
“The Packers contacted my agent and eventually signed me because they thought I was a smart player,” said Flores. “They continued to like what they saw in pre-season and kept me on.”
This is an extremely rare occurrence, only the most talented football players in the world can earn their spot in the National Football League.
There are 253 Division I college teams, and 758 College teams in total.
There are only 32 NFL teams. Assuming the average NFL roster is about three players deep active, and there is about one more level for the practice squad, means there are only about 128 total slots in the NFL for Flores to become a Center.
If your college team is a D1, and that is already a big “If”, you have about a 6% chance to be drafted. The odds of being signed onto a roster as a free agent are even lower than that. Yet, here he is.
“I was not really sure what to expect from the draft,” said Jacob’s mother, Lisa Flores. “His agent had told us that a couple of teams were interested in Jacob playing for them. Once the draft was over, he called to let me know he was going to play for Green Bay as an undrafted free agent.
Grace Prep has had a profound influence in supporting Jacob.
“GPA helped Jacob by setting high academic and athletic standards,” said Mrs. Flores. The coaching staff all had a major contribution to molding him into the player he is today by instilling discipline, work ethic, and life lessons. The religious values reinforced by GPA helped him in his spiritual walk.”
Mrs. Flores is proud that Jacob has found a home with the Green Bay Packers.
“Green Bay is a great organization that is family-friendly,” she said.
As far as him playing professional football, “I did not consider him playing professional ball until his senior year at Dartmouth.”
During his high school career here, Flores balanced academics with athletics extraordinarily well. He won the National Hispanic Merit Scholar award as well as a state championship in basketball playing alongside Isaiah Austin and Denver Nuggets point guard Emmanuel Mudiay.
Flores reflected on his time at Grace as he walked through the two halls again.
“Wow, there are so many memories that are popping up,” said Flores. “I remember eating lunch here in the auditorium. I also remember doing Fellowship of Christian Athletes in there. Everywhere I go in this building, or even in the portables, I’ve either had a class there or some memory about it.”
Flores was glad to hear that the homecoming hallway decorating tradition was still being practiced. He was also excited about the new changes that are coming to the school.
“It’s cool to see some of the changes that are coming,” said Flores. “For example, we never had a basketball gym or a football stadium when I was here!”
Coach Pegues believes that an education from Grace Prep has shaped the way Jacob plays on the field.
“Jacob is an intelligent player,” said Coach Pegues, who coached Jacob in high school. “He was a leader on the team, he always set a good example for the younger players.”
In fact, many people have noticed that Jacob’s quick thinking sets him apart from other centers.
“Jacob is a smart player who scored very high in the Wunderlick IQ test administered by the NFL,” said Mrs. Flores. “When he played at Dartmouth, Jacob was chosen as a member of the All- Ivy Academic Team as well as the First Team All-Ivy Player. Both of these accolades were great honors and I am most proud of the All-Academic Honor. He excelled both on and off the field.”
After graduating in 2012, Flores chose to attend Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, an Ivy league school, and majored in religion.
“My parents always taught me to keep my priorities straight,” said Jacob. “First comes faith, then academics, and then athletics. I want to use my abilities to honor God in the NFL.”
On August 30th, the Green Bay Packers officially placed Flores on the Injured Reserve List for a knee injury acquired during practice. To our good fortune, this has brought Flores home for a few weeks to talk with us at The Mane Post.
“Hopefully I will be released to play again within a month,” said Flores. “I am doing rehab at TMI, and they are doing a great job.”
He has enjoyed being at home with his family and reflecting on the experience so far.
“I got to meet the Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers,” said Flores. “I learned that he is as good as he is because he works hard. That’s the thing about the NFL, everyone is great at football, but it’s the guys who work really hard that have an edge.”
Jacob is eager to get back onto the football field, and since this writing, has become a member of their practice team for the rest of this season. He has other goals for his future as well.
“Football is a young man’s game, so I want to use the sport as a platform to honor God for as long as I can,” said Flores. “But in the future I’d like to start a business of some sort.”
Those who know Flores, knows his family consists of 5 children, (one sister, the oldest, and Jacob and 3 younger brothers) all of whom have worked at the Flores family businesses of car dealerships, and serving snow cones and concessions in some form or fashion since they were old enough to see over the counter.
“Jacob’s siblings are taking his NFL career in stride,” said Mrs. Flores. “He has begun a new job and we are happy for him. Our family is very competitive. As the oldest brother, Jacob has set the bar high for his brothers to meet or exceed his achievements. As a Mom, my role is to support and pray for Jacob in any life decisions he makes. What the future holds for any of the Flores boys is in God’s hands,” she added.