John D. Gonzalez recognized as 2020 Sportsman of the Year

Revered athlete
Greyhound linebacker John Daniel Gonzalez poses for a photo shoot for the San Benito News 2019 Football Preview. He was chosen as this year’s Sportsman of the Year. (Photo by TJ Tijerina)


At the age of five, John Daniel Gonzalez began playing soccer; he was terrible at it. When he was six, Gonzalez began playing baseball, but he was even worse. Afterward, his parents, Lino Daniel and Brenda Gonzalez placed Daniel in football, and he excelled automatically.

Fast forward to his high school career and John Daniel Gonzalez was named captain of the Mighty Greyhounds, playing as a three-year starting linebacker while his physical prowess and leadership shone on the field.

During his early childhood training in football, Gonzalez played quarterback primarily; it wasn’t until his sophomore year that coaches asked him if he wanted to be a first-string quarterback or start as a linebacker.

“I thought, ‘I’d rather play and be in the field,’ so I applied for linebacker and started working out for that, and sure enough, they put me as linebacker, and we went to the playoffs that year, and I guess they were impressed with me,” said Gonzales. “Everything just came easier, and it was fun.”

Pictured is Greyhound John Daniel Gonzalez (#24) at the 2019 game versus Harlingen South. The ’Hounds won 49-14.

His early experiences as quarterback honed Gonzalez’ leadership skills. He noted the only difference between both positions is, “As quarterback, you’re running for your life, and as linebacker, you’re trying to smash somebody.”

Gonzalez’ mother, Brenda, said that from an early age, Daniel gravitated towards football and never left the house without a football in his hand.

“Honestly he was around football so much it was never a question of what sport he would pursue. If we had to say why we ultimately let him pursue the sport, it was to teach him discipline and structure, which we felt would help him as he got older through life’s tougher challenges,” she said.

Editor’s note: This article has been edited for length. To read the full story, click here or make sure to grab a copy of the June 19-25, 2020 issue of the NEWS.

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