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'The perfect guy': Meet the Uvalde athlete who will wear 21 on the football field this season

Justyn didn't know that he would be the first to bear the responsibility of something bigger than sports.

SAN ANTONIO — All along Highway 90 on the drive to Uvalde are 'Pray For Uvalde' signs in Hondo and D'Hanis and Sabinal and Knippa, but in Uvalde you'll see signage remembering the 21 lives lost during the Robb Elementary School shooting. 

That ideology was not lost within the Coyotes high school football program. 

"Coach had sent all the captains a group text (asking) if we should retire it or keep it? And everybody said let's keep it and honor it," said senior linebacker Justyn Rendon.

Justyn didn't know that he would be the first to bear the responsibility of something bigger than sports.

"One of our seven-on-seven games was canceled so we came back to the weight room where we were getting ready to our regular strength and conditioning, and coach pulled me outside and told me I was going to be wearing the 21 (jersey)," said Justyn. 

"It was a tearful moment and made his day," said head coach Wade Miller. "I think he was really surprised."

The team voted to keep the jersey on the field, and to give Justyn the honor of wearing the number. It was a players led decision, and they were happy to support their decision. 

"We didn't just wanna hang it up where people would forget about it," said senior receiver Jarrett Hernandez. "At least wearing it on the football field people will be able to see us."

Justyn told us that this is an honor for him, and that he's truly blessed to have this opportunity to hit the field on Friday nights and represent. 

"It is a lot," he said. 

"Lots of responsibility comes along with this jersey. Just being that team leader and being on everyone's back. Going hard on every play." Coach Miller added he has to be 'that' guy 24/7 and that he's done fabulous with that. 

"I think it will mean lots for us seniors," said senior quarterback Chris Rodriguez. "He's my first cousin so it means a lot representing so many people, our family, the seniors and the community. He's the perfect guy for it."

And that was my impression as well. It is easy to admire a humble young man like Justyn. He understands what this is all about. 

"I'm very privileged to go out there every Friday night and just play every down to the fullest knowing that I'm representing my community and the 21 lives."

And as he honors the 21 jersey, his teammates represent the Uvalde community. 

"I think when you see it you realize there are many more important things in life than just winning football games, and we wanna represent and honor (the community)," said Coach Miller. 

"It is important so people don't always have to feel that sadness," Justyn said. "Feel that joy on Friday night's when everybody comes together to see us win and come together as a team."

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