GILMER, Texas (KETK)- Year in and year out the Gilmer Buckeyes always have guys sign to play at the next level. We caught up with Ashton Haynes to talk to him about his journey to sign with the TJC Apaches.

When you think about East Texas football, the Gilmer Buckeyes are one of the first teams to come to mind. For the last four years Ashton Haynes has been grinding and putting in the work but head coach Alan Metzel says this season he turned into a leader.

“This year as a senior he had to step up from a stand point of affecting others. He has always taken care of his business but then he was having to learn how to affect other people on the team and encourage them and get them to be here and buy in and like he has and he really took a big step this year and a lot of the success we had is attributed to that,” tells Gilmer Head coach Alan Metzel.

“He has definitely been a mentor to me, like before I used to never talk at all honestly but he really changed me into that and helped me grow into who I am today,” adds Ashton Haynes.

“It shows growth, I mean in life that’s what you want to see out of him from a boy to a man, you learn how to become a leader. First you got to be an Indian before you can be a chief and he has achieved that I believe,” explains Ashton’s dad Brandish Haynes.

With his leadership qualities growing throughout the season, he led Gilmer on a nice playoff run and earned a scholarship. “I feel proud, I really do I mean all of my hard work and coaches finally see what I can done it makes me happy. I’m very excited, I think I’m ready to go,” smiles Ashton!

“It means a lot and I hope he always knows to give God the glory for his success,” says Ashton’s mom Tracy Haynes.

“Very proud, Ashton is the first one in the family that’s going to go to school on a athletic scholarship so that’s huge and I’m proud of him for that, first of all to go get the education and then football comes secondary but its important,” declares Brandish.

Haynes is following in his parent’s footsteps, his mom Tracy played volleyball at TJC while his dad went for academics.

“I feel comfortable with it, I feel like he is ready and I feel like this will give him a maturing process to go through a junior college first and I’m excited,” smiles Tracy.

The athletic bloodline is strong and Haynes is excited to join coach Tanner Jacobson and the Apache program and put in work.

“We are very pleased that TJC that saw something that we knew he had that other schools might not have believed in but we are so proud of the fact that they had some smart guys to know that’s who they need to go after and TJC y’all are getting a dog and he is coming down there to burn that thing down,” exclaims Brandish.

While at TJC, Ashton will get the chance to play against an old teammate Braelyn Ward who signed to Navarro. “Yeah probably a little bit of trash talk but I’m loving that I get to play against Braelyn ward,” adds Ashton.

“It feels really good to play against my old teammate its going to be real fun,” tells Braelyn Ward.

“They will be great competing against each other and I know there will be a lot of fun smack talk before the game, whose going to win but all in good fun,” smiles Metzel.

Good luck Ashton and go show the Apaches about that Buckeye pride.