Patriots’ First Round Latino Draft Pick has UTEP Ties
And with its first pick - the New England Patriots selected Oregon cornerback Christian Gonzalez (#17 overall) in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Gonzalez, a 6-foot-2, 200-pounder from The Colony, Texas, was the third cornerback off the board after the Seattle Seahawks selected Devon Witherspoon #5 overall and Emmanuel Forbes was picked up by the Washington Commanders at #16.
Gonzalez was, however, the first Latino pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Many are saying this was a major steal for New England, and that Christian easily could have gone in the top 10.
For Duck fans... Gonzalez has been on their radar big-time following a spectacular season in Eugene. As a high schooler in Texas, Christian was a four-star prospect ranked as one of the top 50 players from Texas by 247Sports, Rivals & ESPN. He then went to Colorado before ending up an Oregon Duck and completing his Sophomore season.
Some eagle-eyed UTEP Basketball fans, however (shout out to UTEP Zay!) - noticed a local connection to the newest Patriot. Turns out Christian is the son of former UTEP Basketball player Hector Gonzalez.
Hector, after landing in the U.S. from Colombia in the 90s not knowing any English, played college basketball at UTEP as a 6-foot-8 forward. He then went on to play semiprofessional basketball in Colombia.
A few decades later his son Christian Gonzalez followed in his dad's footsteps of following your dreams.
According to SI.com, Christian Gonzalaz is the highest-drafted Oregon defensive back since the Miami Dolphins drafted safety Jevon Holland with the 36th pick in the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft.
He nearly quit football in HS because coaches placed him on JV, saying he “wasn’t strong” in the weight room. According to NFL Rookie Watch, Gonzalez decided to stick with it and eventually accepted an offer to Colorado.
Looks like it's working out for him. Congrats, Christian!