Meet LSU football's Spanish-speaking viral sensation
BATON ROUGE, LA (WVUE) - The Voice of the Tigers is an honored position at LSU, dominated for decades by Jim Hawthorne and now in the hands of Chris Blair. But there's another play-caller in the press box who has secured the mantle "La Voz de los Tigres."
Mario Jerez, a New Orleans native, is an LSU student and the sports director for KLSU, but during home games you can find him the press box calling LSU football in Spanish.
It started four years ago, when Jerez was thrust into the position during the 2012 North Texas match-up.
"I want to call games for a living and for me to be able to do that as an 18-year-old at LSU, to open that season - the number two team in the country, the defending SEC Champions, the National Champion runner-up - it was just absolutely surreal," Jerez said.
While Jerez's calls might sound like something you'd hear during a World Cup Soccer game, he draws a lot from his idols, Hawthorne and Jim Henderson, whom he grew up listening to during Saints games.
"I always try to study guys like that, try to emulate them, see what I can pick up from them, mix in with my own style, so yeah, those two guys I definitely look up to a lot," Jerez said.
His own style is unique in its own right, peppering plays with an enthusiasm unmatched in the press box.
"Definitely want to emphasize all the big plays for LSU, whenever they happen. That's what came into performing my trademark call, 'that touchdown!' It's just like 'gooooal' in soccer, but it's Americanized because it's for football," Jerez said.
With players like Derrius Guice and Leonard Fournette on the field, there are likely a few more trademarks in the works for Jerez.
"'Qué gran esfuerzo por el número siete, correr sobre otro defensor.' That means, 'What an effort by number seven! He just ran over another defender!' and that something that I say a lot," Jerez said.
This season Jerez gained viral fame when LSU Football posted a few of his calls on Facebook, drawing a larger English-speaking audience. He's thankful for that, but knows his job is to bring the Tigers to the thousands of fans who want to call 'Los Tigres' their own.
"A lot of people, my parents included, kind of use LSU Football as a way to ingrain themselves into the Louisiana culture, and I think that holds true in all other parts of the country. I think we're going to see Spanish broadcasts, in college football specifically, pick up across America because it is a way for people to identify with this culture," Jerez said.
It's an added bonus for Jerez, who seems to be living out his dream - something he hopes to continue, whether in English or Spanish.
"It's been unbelievable. Like I said before, as a lifelong LSU fan just being in that stadium and having the point of view from the press box, it's just surreal. And getting the opportunity to announce the games for some of these players and some of these teams and being in the same stadium the other night as Nick Saban and some of these players like Tyrann Mathieu, Patrick Peterson and some of the great announcers, like being in the same press box as Vern Lundquist, that's a huge honor to me. The fact that I'm able to go do this just means the world to me," Jerez said.
Jerez only calls home games for now, but you can listen to his unique calls next season when LSU opens their home season against Chattanooga on 105.5 KDDK in Baton Rouge and 105.7 KGLA in New Orleans.
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