LOS ANGELES — Texas has been Steve Avila’s only home for the first 23 years of his life. He was born and raised in Dallas. Then, he went to Texas Christian University (TCU) in Fort Worth, Texas, for college.
At TCU, Avila was a captain for their football team, leading them to the College Football Playoff (CFP) National Championship in 2023, losing to Georgia.
Avila loves the Dallas-Fort Worth area, as he relishes the tasty Mexican food and diverse culture. But after staying in the same place his whole life, he is ready to embrace his new home, Los Angeles.
After the Los Angeles Rams drafted Avila with pick No. 36 in the 2023 NFL Draft, he arrived in Los Angeles on May 12. And as Avila met his teammates and learned his way around the facilities, he understood he was starting fresh with the Rams, like when he was a freshman in college. So now, he is looking to build respect and make a difference, as he has done on his previous teams.
“I [was] talking to the other rookies like, ‘dude, we are just freshmen again,” Avila said. “Yeah, that’s really what it is. But I’ve always found a way to gain the respect of my teammates, which leads to more of a leadership role. And that’s something that I plan to do here.”
And Avila has already gained the respect of one NFL veteran, former-Rams offensive lineman Andrew Whitworth.
“I love the pick of the kid out of TCU. I think that they’ve got some young linemen now that have played, and they’ll be more experienced,” said Whitworth on the Rich Eisen show.
Even before being drafted by the Rams, Avila left a positive impression with the team. His only contact with them was when he met with special assistant to the general manager/analyst Andy Sugurman to review film, and he almost undoubtedly left a good impression, as the Rams drafted him soon after.
However, with respect comes pressure to perform well. With a 5-12 record last year following a Super Bowl win, some fans hope the Rams return to the playoffs next season. And that process now includes Avila.
Avila has played every position on the offensive line despite being primarily an interior lineman, and he is willing to play wherever he is called upon. That flexibility could be valuable for a Rams offensive line that struggled with injuries last season; Joseph Noteboom, Brandon Allen, and numerous others missed time.
Despite high expectations from people like legends like Whitworth, fans, and others, Avila does not let the pressure get to him.
“I kind of had the mindset of whatever is gonna happen is gonna happen,” Avila said. “I mean, it’s already written, and I just want to do my best to not have any regrets going into the future, whether that’s watching extra film or doing things extra. So that pressure kind of alleviate itself, like it kind of goes away.”
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As Avila looks to become a leader on the Rams, he also wants to connect with the Rams community in other ways, as many team leaders do. One way he will do so is by learning Spanish.
When Avila joined the team, he felt, as one of a few Latinx players in the NFL, that he let down his Latinx fans because he did not know Spanish.
“The Rams have a very heavy Hispanic community. They’re all excited because being a Hispanic person in the NFL is rare. But like when I got here, and everybody’s all excited. I let people down because I was don’t speak Spanish,” Avila said.
Furthering Avila’s disappointment was finding out that his teammate, defensive lineman Kobie Turner can speak Spanish, and he does not.
“Kobie Turner, who’s also on the team, he speaks Spanish. And it made me mad. I was like, ‘Alright, man, I gotta get all my stuff,” Avila said.
Avila tried learning Spanish in 2021 but quit because it felt like schoolwork. However, now he has made a promise that he will learn the language by one year from now. He will try to complete the lofty goal using language learning apps like Duolingo.
Over the next few months, Avila will continue integrating with the team as he prepares for his rookie season. Training camp begins on July 29, and he will prepare for his first game on August 12 when the Rams play the Los Angeles Chargers in the preseason.