For the first time since 1978, a Victorian was drafted to the NFL.
Victoria East standout Bailey Zappe was drafted by the New England Patriots in the fourth round with the 137th overall pick.
He was with his family when he got the life-changing call.
“It is surreal and a dream come true,” Zappe said. “I am really excited to get up there and get to work.”
Johnny Barefield was the last Victoria high school graduate drafted when he was picked up by the St. Louis Cardinals in the NFL draft 44 years ago.
Zappe, a graduate transfer in 2021, is now the highest-drafted quarterback in Western Kentucky University history.
“I’m very, very proud of Bailey,” said East coach Roland Gonzalez, who coached Zappe from 2014 to 2016. “I’m so happy the Patriots were able to draft him. I think they’re gonna come out on top in the end with this deal. I think they got a really, really good football player.
While at the Senior Bowl and NFL Combine, Zappe had a chance to interact with the Patriots’ staff as well as a number of other teams.
Still, with a quarterback room headlined by 2021 draft pick Mac Jones and Auburn product Jarrett Stidham, as well as veteran Brian Hoyer, many didn’t expect New England to draft a quarterback.
“Everything was going to be a surprise when I got drafted,” Zappe said. “I have been looking forward to this moment for so long and it is something I have been dreaming of since I started playing football at 5. Getting that call from the Patriots was amazing, and I am more excited to get there, get to work and meet my teammates, meet everyone a part of the organization and get ready to start playing some football.”
Zappe threw for an NCAA record 5,967 yards and 62 touchdowns last season at WKU, breaking records set by BJ Symons and Joe Burow.
He completed 33 of 47 passes for 422 yards and six touchdowns to break those records and win MVP honors in a 59-38 win over Appalachian State in the Boca Raton Bowl
Zappe was named Conference USA MVP after guiding the Hilltoppers to the C-USA East Division title and a 9-5 record. He also won the Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award.
Prior to his year at Western Kentucky, Zappe threw for 10,004 yards and 78 touchdowns at Houston Baptist University, where he signed to out of East.
It was his lone offer coming out of high school.
“I still had a dream to play in the NFL,” the 6-foot-1 gunslinger said. “I felt like I only needed an opportunity and I got that. To be here and look back, it has been a long and fun journey. Like I said, it has been a dream come true to be in this position, to be drafted by the Patriots, a great organization, is surreal for me.”
In 2016 while at East, Zappe helped guide the Titans to the Class 5A quarterfinals for the first time in school history.
His former coach can remember how Zappe’s work ethic and football IQ stood out as a high schooler.
Zappe recently posted the highest score on the Wonderlic test, which the NFL administers to gauge a prospect’s critical thinking and problem solving abilities.
He scored a 35 on the test. Malik Willis, one of the top-projected QBs this year, scored a 32.
Zappe’s 35 is the same as Aaron Rodgers scored when he was drafted in 2005 by the Green Bay Packers.
“Bailey was always one of those special athletes because of his high football IQ,” Gonzalez said. “He was just a great competitor. So, early on, I had a feeling there were going to be some opportunities for him to play at the highest level.”
Zappe is well aware of what he will have to do to earn his spot on the Patriots’ depth chart.
He’s ready to get to work.
“I am really looking forward to learning from all three of those guys and getting up there, meeting them and doing as much as I can to help the team,” Zappe said. “I am really excited about this opportunity.”
Cuero’s Patton picked up by the Colts
Cuero alum and Texas State product Caeveon Patton went undrafted during the draft, but didn’t have to wait long to find his new home.
According to former Cuero coach Travis Reeve, Patton was picked up by the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday as an undrafted free agent.
Patton finished with 179 tackles in his collegiate career.
At Cuero, he helped the Gobblers to a 13-1 record his senior year in 2016.
Sacred Heart's Wick joins Colts
Hallettsville Sacred Heart's Cullen Wick signed as a free agent with the Indianapolis Colts.
Wick played at Blinn College and Tulsa.
He played on the defensive line and had 94 career tackles for the Golden Hurricanes.
Wick's older brothers, Evan and Cole also played professionally.
Evan played at East Tennessee State, and Cole played at Incarnate Word.