HOUSTON — A high school hit hard by Hurricane Harvey is getting a new playing surface thanks to the Houston Texans.
The Texans said Monday that they’re donating the turf they played on at NRG Stadium last season to C.E. King High School after its field was destroyed in flooding from Harvey, which hit the area last August.
“These guys get to go out there every day and know that they’re playing on something that J.J. Watt played on,” King coach Derek Fitzhenry said. “Of course, that’s everybody’s favorite player, so it’s exciting.”
Fitzhenry and several members of the team were guests of the Texans at practice on Monday, and Watt spoke to the group for a few minutes before posing for pictures with them.
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“It means a lot to me to play on a field the Texans played on,” senior linebacker Rodrick Crumedy said. “I’ve never even stepped on an NFL field, so stepping on one every day will mean a lot to me.”
Students at the high school had to attend classes in an elementary school last year because of damage from the flooding, and much of the team’s equipment and facilities were lost. Almost a year later, the team is excited about a fresh start this season on its fancy albeit gently used turf.
“These guys have really come through that struggle really well,” Fitzhenry said. “A lot of that stuff is behind us now and we’re excited for this year.”
Before Watt spent time with the guys, several other players stopped by to chat with them on their way off the field after practice. Linebacker Benardrick McKinney encouraged them to work hard and wished them luck on their season. Safety Tyrann Mathieu smiled broadly as he autographed miniature helmets for the players.
“Any time we can reach out to the high schools and help them out in the ways that we do — we do a great job headed by (Texans president) Jamey Rootes and his crew,” Texans coach Bill O’Brien said. “They do a great job with community relations and I think the high school football is a big part of that.”