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Local football star sidelined after being ruled ineligible to play

Published: Sep. 17, 2021 at 10:04 AM CDT
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MARLIN, Texas (KWTX) - One of the best football players in central Texas – and maybe the entire state – is spending his senior season on the sideline after the UIL ruled him ineligible.

After growing up in Marlin, Jaray Bledsoe spent his Junior season at Bremond.

When the ice storm in January caused Jaray’s mother’s home in Bremond to flood, she started thinking it was time to go back to Marlin, where she was born and raised, as well.

Then, after failed attempts to register Jaray for summer school at Bremond, his mom pulled the trigger, enrolling him at Marlin, inadvertently making Jaray ineligible to play his senior season of football.

Jaray’s mother, Benisha Washington, tells me, “It is so unfair that my son is being punished for decisions and choices I made for my family, when I thought I was doing what is best for my family.”

Jaray had briefly lived in Bremond with his father before doing his freshman and sophomore years at Marlin.

When Jaray left again for Bremond, there were no issues with allowing him to play on the football team.

Now, his coach is wondering why he didn’t get that same treatment when he moved home.

Marlin Head Coach Ruben Torres explains, “When Jaray went to Bremond, or other kids went to other schools, no one questioned it. Now, our own kids are coming back to Marlin and we are getting questioned.”

Marlin’s administration was shocked when his appeal fell one vote short, and it can’t make sense of the decision.

“If we are supposed to be about what is best for the kids, then this decision was not at all what is in the best interest of a kid. Regardless of who that kid is,” says Coach Torres.

Jaray has continued to be involved with the team, and he is committed to continue his football career at Texas next year, but missing his senior season stings.

His mom remembers, “That first game that we came to that he wasn’t able to play – it took me 15-20 minutes to get him out of the car. It was really tough on him.”

Jaray’s fight for eligibility is far from over. It may be a long shot, but his family isn’t giving up.

If he does somehow get to play, it would mean the world to him – and his hometown.

Torres explains, “I don’t think words could describe what it would mean to our team. It isn’t just because he is a four-star recruit. I think we all understand there was some injustice done here, and we need that victory. Jaray needs that victory. This community needs that victory.”

KWTX reached out to the UIL but a spokesperson said the UIL doesn’t comment on specific student eligibility cases.

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