Photo by Gerald Castillo
2021 SMDR Male Athlete of the Year: Jaidyn Brown
Whenever you transfer into a new school as an athlete, your playing time is determined by the impact you make within the program in a timely fashion. It’s also finding the role you fill to fit the plans of the staff you’re trying to impress.
Jaidyn Brown did that immediately from the day he stepped on campus as the new kid until the day he was named First Team all-district for San Marcos.
In the first game of the 2021 season, Brown went down with a concussion and was forced to sit out a week, unable to make his name known. But in his return against East Central the week after on Sept. 10, he recorded 22 carries for 209 yards and three touchdowns in San Marcos’ first win of the season. He wasn’t done there. His game-by-game performances left him with 1,452 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns in 10 games played while averaging an absurd 8.6 yards per carry. The junior also had seven games with 100 or more yards this season. His ground game helped San Marcos reach a playoff berth for the first time since the 2017 season.
Brown’s flashy skill set, stat line and ability to use his speed and elusiveness to break through defenses on a weekly basis makes him the Daily Record’s Male Athlete of the Year.
San Marcos Academy’s Inaki Infante-Valenzuela
In his senior season, Inaki Infante-Valenzuela did everything a coach can ask for from a kid. Valenzuela made his money catching the ball, leading the team in total receptions (30), receiving yards (577), yards per game (41.2) and was the only receiver on the team with double-digit receiving touchdowns this year (19). His presence was felt on defense as well, adding 81 tackles while also kicking PATs and field goals and leading his team to the TAPPS Six Man Division I state championship game.
Texas State Men’s Basketball’s Mason Harrell and Caleb Asberry
You can’t paint the picture of the 2021 Sun Belt regular season championship without mentioning the leading scorers of the team in Harrell and Asberry.
Harrell is usually the smallest player on the court but his impact on the game itself would make it seem like he was the biggest. First-year head coach Terrance Johnson leaned heavily on his starting point guard, who was named to the All-Sun Belt First Team, as he was the only player on the team to eclipse 800 minutes on the court while averaging 13.9 points per game on 46% shooting from the field.
Asberry quickly established his name on the Texas State campus with his ability to score the ball at will and his production from his first to his second season with the maroon and gold was essential to the team’s success. The senior went from 6.7 points per game on 24.7% from beyond the arc to 13.3 points per game on 41.7 percent from deep.
San Marcos Boys’ Basketball’s Malik Presley and Kaden Gumbs
Although they fell short of making the playoffs two years in a row, Presley and Gumbs came back in 2021 to erase all doubts of their ability to lead San Marcos to a playoff berth.
So far this season, Presley has established his name as one of the top players not only in the city or state but in the nation. His lengthy 6-foot-6 frame and guard skills make it easy for him to get to the basket and with a nice lefty stroke from 3, he’s scored 20 or more points in every home game for San Marcos this season. Look for Presley to be in contention for Player of the Year in District 26-6A by 2022.
Gumbs simply is the best defender in the central Texas area and he’s proven it time and time again. A couple of five-steal performances, as well as the ability to take on the toughest assignment night in and night out was the reason he was awarded the district’s Defensive Player of the Year honor.
San Marcos Baseball’s Johnny Pardo
Pardo is an all-around player that can play multiple positions and he did that all season last year for San Marcos. He was named Co-Offensive MVP of the district after producing every night at the plate. The junior infielder recorded a batting average of .486, totaling 18 hits, 10 RBIs, three doubles and two triples. His campaign helped the purple and white to a 20-plus win season and wins over ranked teams across the state.
His hitting was needed in the Rattler lineup every night, even putting up an impressive stretch of games in 2021 batting .857 with a triple, a double and 5 RBIs in the final week of April in 2021.
Texas State Football’s Dalton Cooper
Texas State had its most successful season under head coach Jake Spavital winning four games, a result of the offensive line stepping up to help generate some offense. Cooper was a bright spot on the line, being selected to the All-Sun Belt Third Team Offense and being graded as the No. 32 tackle in the nation by Pro Football Focus. Cooper’s production allowed Texas State’s offense to average 369.7 total yards, 27.7 points, and 131 yards rushing per game in 2021.