Tyler Junior College offensive tackle Drew Sarvary remembers the date well — Sept. 8, 2012.

The 6-7, 320-pounder and his Florida A&M Rattlers were in Norman, Okla., to take on No. 5 Oklahoma.

As a freshman, Sarvary was anxious to see how he matched up against a Sooner defensive line that included several NFL prospects. It was his first start at offensive guard.

While the Rattlers did not fare well on the scoreboard (69-13 loss), from all accounts, the big guy fared well against the Sooners. That made Sarvary think he could play at a higher level.

“I thought I was able to hang with and play well against the defensive players from Oklahoma — some of those guys are in the NFL now — there really wasn’t a reason why I couldn’t play at that level, too,” Sarvary said. “I went up against (DT) Jamarkus McFarland from Lufkin, (DT) Stacey McGee and (DE) David King.”

McGee (Oakland Raiders) and King (Philadelphia Eagles) were drafted and McFarland, DE RJ Washington and DT Casey Walker all signed free agent contracts.

“I thought I wanted to give Division I a try,” Sarvary said.

He went on to start nine other games for the Rattlers and decided to transfer.

UAB offensive coordinator and former University of Houston coach Kim Helton advised Sarvary to contact Apache head coach Danny Palmer about the possibility of transferring to TJC, telling him the school produces numerous D-I prospects every year.

“I had a lot of juco offers — I had some from New York, California, Georgia Military, Blinn, Trinity Valley and here,” Sarvary said. “I didn’t want to go to New York. I didn’t want to go to California and I didn’t want to go to a military school so I ended up here in Tyler.”

It has worked out for both Sarvary and the Apaches, who sport a 7-0 overall record (4-0 in Southwest Junior College Football Conference) and a No. 3 national ranking.

Sarvary has started at offensive tackle and helped TJC sport one of the most prolific offenses in the nation. The squad is sixth in the country, averaging 496.3 yards per game. As far as rushing, the team is averaging 313.6, ranking second nationally.

“We take pride in our backs getting a lot of yards; scoring a lot of points and lighting up the scoreboard,” Sarvary said, “plus being physical up front.”

Sarvary knows the line is key in their showdown with No. 17 Trinity Valley Community College (5-2, 4-1 SWJCFC), which is noted for its D-I prospects across the defensive line. The contest is scheduled for 3 p.m. Saturday at Bruce Field in Athens.

The winner of the game will lock down the No. 1 seed for the SWJCFC playoffs, which begins in three weeks.

“(The Cardinals) are a very good team,” said Sarvary, who is majoring in business administration. “We have to win up front — it all starts with the O-line. They have a great D-line.”

Sarvary is happy how the Apache offensive line has played.

“In the spring it took us a while to get together,” Sarvary said. “We started to mesh a little bit; and then during two-a-days we started clicking, clicking, clicking. When you get to the season, you are rolling already — you know what the guy next to you is going to do before he does it.”

The way Sarvary has played has attracted a lot of interest from Division I schools, and he has already committed to Kliff Kingsbury and Texas Tech. He picked the Red Raiders over many offers like South Florida, East Carolina and Memphis.

“I just really loved the energy of the coaches, and it’s really a young staff,” said Sarvary, who may play tackle or guard in Lubbock. “Their biggest needs for next season are along the offensive line; and I just felt this was the best place and best fit for me.”

Sarvary will have two seasons of eligibility remaining. He plans to transfer to Tech at the end of this semester as he will graduate from TJC in December.

Before entering college, Sarvary played three years at noted Florida Class 6A high school power Tallahassee Leon. He then transferred to North Florida Christian School, a premier small private school powerhouse, his senior season, helping the Eagles to a 13-0 record and the Class 2A state title.

He was named all-state by the Miami Herald and was the Lineman of the Year for the Big Bend region (Florida panhandle).

After high school he decided to stay in Tallahassee with Florida A&M.

“I had a few options and decided to go to Florida A&M,” Sarvary said. “I didn’t start my first game, but played the second half.”

He started the remainder of the Rattlers’ season and then headed for Tyler.

Now, he’s thinking in the present and that means taking on the Cardinals on Saturday.

“We have to continue to stay humble — the most humble person works the hardest and the person who works the hardest usually comes out on top,” Sarvary said.

SMOKE SIGNALS: TJC leads the series with TVCC, 51-36. The Apaches have won seven of the past 10 meetings, including last season, 37-16, when the two clubs met in Lindale. … The Apaches and Cardinals first played in 1947, a 20-0 TJC win.


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Sports Editor

I am a native Tylerite and I grew up reading the Tyler Morning Telegraph and The Tyler Courier-Times. My parents took both the morning and afternoon papers. I came to work here 35 years ago at the age of 23, right after college.