ASHLAND -- Like every good running back, SOU redshirt senior running back, Rey Vega, grew up with a lead blocker helping him to clear the hudles set in his way.
“My dad, he was like my best friend growing up," Vega said, "He would always send me text messages saying, 'We’re watching you, go hard, we love you.'"
After not graduating from high school, Raymond Vega told his son he was going to get a diploma so he could land a decent job.
“He didn’t have that experience to go to college, but he knew what good that would do, because that diploma will last forever and football and sports won’t," Vega said, "By the time I’m like 30, 40, I can’t even do sports anymore.”
This is Vega's last season of college football, but he won't be going through it with his lead blocker.
"It happened fast. It really hit hard last winter during 2017," Vega said, "When I came back to school for the winter term, that's when I started getting phone calls from the family saying, 'Look, your dad isn't doing too well.'"
The health of Vega's father quickly deteriorated as trips in and out of the hospital became routine.
“I went home a couple times and he was in the hospital and he was under a coma," Vega said, "Then there were a couple times where he was awake and he would tell me that he was proud of me and he loved me and he wanted me to keep moving forward no matter what happened to him and by that time, I kinda knew it was coming to an end.”
Shortly after, Vega's father passed away. After getting to say goodbye to his dad, Vega decided to use him as motivation for his senior season.
When I feel like I’m tired or I just gotta push a little more, that’s definitely my 'Why'. I say I’m gonna do it for my dad and I’m gonna do it for Coach Howard. I definitely wanna get to that national championship and make him proud," Vega said.
When Vega suits up for his final home opener on Saturday, he may not have his lead blocker in person, but that doesn't mean he doesn't have his back.
"I know he's watching over me right now with a smile on his face. He's really proud."
- Playing Through Pain: SOU's Rey Vega Dedicates Senior Season to Late Father
- Late-Inning Heroics Continue to Fuel SOU's Season
- Vega Runs Wild, SOU Edges College of Idaho
- SOU Senior Day: Final Six From National Championship Team Set To Play in Last Collegiate Game
- Kiefer Edwards Will Play College Basketball at SOU
- Afenegus Resigns as SOU Men's Soccer Coach After Three Seasons
- SOU's Clark suffers broken leg, season in jeopardy
- SOU Football 2018 Preview: Offense
- SOU Football 2018 Preview: Defense
- Justin Herbert to Return to Oregon for Senior Season