On Wednesday, Italy High School coaches, family, friends and teammates gathered inside George E. Scott Coliseum to share a special moment for senior Zain Byers, who signed his commitment letter to play football for the Division III, Austin College Kangaroos.

As a representative of Italy Athletics, Byers was an active participant over the years in several sports including basketball, baseball, track, tennis and lacrosse during the summers in Colorado.

Football, however, is where Zain carved out a niche for himself and eventually became a three-year starter for the Italy Gladiators.

In that time, Zain became a first-team all-district performer in four separate positions on the gridiron including center, right offensive tackle, right offensive guard and twice as a defensive end. It was as a defensive end that he earned all-state recognition by the Texas Sports Writers Association as a junior in 2012 after Italy’s deep run into the playoffs that culminated in state semifinal appearance.

Taking on more of a leadership roll going into his senior season, Byers helped guide the Gladiators to a third-straight district championship. Once again, his prowess off the edge earned him second-team all-state honors in 2013 by the Associated Press and first-team all-state honors by TheOldCoach.com. Zain was also named the district 6-1AD1 Defensive MVP and was selected as Gladiator Football’s Defensive MVP for both his junior and senior seasons.

Excellence on the field was just part of the equation for Byers, who first committed to becoming a better student before reaching his goal of signing a commitment letter to play football at the collegiate level. Nominated by his math teacher, Casey Holden, and eventually named Who’s Who Among All-American National Math Scholars as a junior, Byers will major in education.