By David Coleman
The News Sports Writer
NEDERLAND – Brock Pryor went viral last week.
In a short video that currently resides on the phones and email accounts of many local coaches, Pryor is playing against Beaumont Ozen. He slips off a block and fills toward the middle of the field, where he catches running back Jakobi Jones attempting to try and block Pryor or maybe just slip into a pass route.
Either way, the 6-foot-2, 275 pound senior made sure Jones did not complete his assignment. He grabbed the runner with one hand, forcing Jones’ feet to fly up in the air like he slipped on a banana peel before slamming the slight back to the ground.
“He got in my way,” Pryor said. “I just moved him out of the way.”
Over the past three years, there are many players who probably regret getting in Pryor’s way. The three-year starter at defensive tackle has been a mainstay on the Nederland defense. He’s not always flashy, but what fans may not notice, opposing coaches surely do.
“It wasn’t hard to figure out he had some innate ability,” Nederland head coach Larry Neumann said. “He’s really quick for as big as he is. He’s very tenacious. He’s coachable and understands the nuances of the position. He is a guy who, unless you have a really excellent offensive lineman, you’re going to have two pairs of eyes on him. He’s drawn that kind of attention his whole career. “
When Pryor began his varsity career in the spring before his sophomore season, he was supposed to play offense. All it took was one Shotgun Alley drill for him to catch the coaching staff's attention and he hasn’t looked back since.
“He’s put in a lot of time and it’s things people don’t see,” Nederland defensive line coach Reed Lowrance said. “The work he’s put in during the summer and offseason has been outstanding. His strength has increased tremendously (since his sophomore year). He’s probably the smartest football player I’ve ever coached and that makes him what he is. He knows how to play double and triple teams and it is second nature for him. He’s seen every block there is. The way he’s developed mentally has been tremendous.”
Pryor has been part of an excellent Nederland defensive unit that has put up consecutive shutouts in its last two games. Heading into last week’s game with Lumberton, Pryor had 52 tackles, including four for a loss, one sack, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.
In putting together a highlight reel of Pryor’s time with Nederland, his viral hit would have to be up there, but in his eyes, a play from his sophomore season stood out.
“I think it’d have to be getting a sack on Brennan Doty my sophomore season,” Pryor said. “Just the fact that he was going to Oregon made it really cool. “
It seems like many of Pryor’s biggest moments came against Port Neches-Groves. His sack of Doty was the first time any defensive player had dumped the future Oregon Duck that season, and it was his stop on fourth down last year in Mid-County Madness that stood out to Neumann.
“What’s stuck in my mind for eternity is the great stop he made in the rivalry game,” Neumann said. “He defeated a block and met the ball carrier head on. If there’s a marquee play about that position, that’s it. He’s made a bunch of them. That just happened to be an opportune time.”
Last season, Pryor had to fight through some adversity, as he had multiple injuries that held him out of about five games. That didn’t stop him from garnering all-district attention or making the 2011 Port Arthur News Super Team.
Still, the experience emphasized the kind of hard work and dedication he showed to still play at a high level.
“It was tough coming back,” Pryor said. “It builds a better mindset. Last year, I went through surgery. Just coming back from that and getting reconditioned was tough. It made me want to fight through little injuries that much more.”
In three years, Pryor hasn’t lost to PN-G, which is fact he’s very proud of. It’s also part of the legacy he’d like to leave for future Nederland defenses. The legacy of this entire defensive group will have a huge impact on future classes.
“It started last year with our defensive line coming out and having a good year,” Lowrance said. “What (Pryor) and the other guys have done for the position is it’s not just a bunch of slow, big kids. They’re athletic and quick. There’s definitely a legacy developing because of their work ethic. Caleb Malveaux is one of the ones affected. From last year to this, Malveaux is light-years better and it’s because of (Brock), because he plays next to Brock and the things Brock has taught him. As a coach, you can’t ask for more than that.”
BULLDOG BITES: The son of Rachelle and Phillip Pryor, Brock said he’d like to play football collegiately and has been talking with a few schools. … Nederland’s consecutive shutouts the past two seasons are rare. The last time a Bulldog defense had consecutive shutouts in a season before last year was in 1969, when Nederland had six shutouts and two straight streaks of two and three shutouts, respectively. The last time Nederland had consecutive seasons with consecutive shutouts was 1960-61. The last time Nederland had two shutouts period in consecutive seasons was 1999-2000, when Nederland had five. Since Larry Neumann took over as head coach in 1993, the Bulldogs have amassed 18 shutouts. Since 1982, they’ve had 23 shutouts. Since the team started play in 1925, Nederland has recorded 186 shutouts, with 120 of those happening from 1931-60. … The only two defenders with more tackles than Pryor this season are the two linebackers, Korbin Stampley and Jordan Wood. Pryor is one of six Nederland defenders with at least one sack and the Bulldogs had 16 total sacks heading into the Lumberton game.
Five Questions with Brock Pryor
What is your favorite color? Purple
Do you have any pets? Two dogs, Zena and Zoey
What is your favorite NFL team? Dallas Cowboys
What is your favorite college? Texas Christian
If you could play another sport, what would it be? Hockey