Contributed by Alan Schmadtke, MacGuffin Publishing
ORLANDO (CureBowl.com) – Few college football players are as perfect a fit for a special bowl game as Rashad Wisdom is for the Cure Bowl.
UTSA’s senior safety landed in Orlando with his teammates and coaches today to finish off preparations for Friday’s Duluth Trading Cure Bowl against Troy, and the overall purpose of the game strikes at a core of Wisdom’s life.
The Duluth Trading Cure Bowl exists to raise money for doctors who want to cure cancer. And following the death of Wisdom’s younger brother to kidney cancer, he and his family are intimately involved in helping other kids with cancer have less stress in their path to remission.
“Cherish your loved ones while you have them. Today is not promised,” Wisdom said. “Every day is a blessing.”
Wisdom was in high school in San Antonio along with his younger brother, Bryce Wisdom, he learned that Bryce had reported to the school nurse that he spotted blood in his urine during a trip to the bathroom. That led to an emergency trip to the hospital, where tests and scans showed a scary situation – kidney cancer.
Until then, Bryce’s identity was that of a sophomore football player, a cornerback. Then he started defending something much more evasive.
Through chemotherapy, Bryce beat the cancer into remission, but months later it came back with a vengeance. More treatment ensued, and that wore Bryce down physically and emotionally. He kept pushing through weariness and pain.
Wisdom, who grew up in San Antonio, Texas and chose to stay home to help build UTSA’s young football program. He was attending a freshman writing composition class at UTSA when his older brother Sean kept calling. Eventually, Wisdom stepped out of class to pick it up. That’s when Sean delivered the news that Bryce had died.
“I did not see this coming,” he told his brother.
It was July 27, 2020. Bryce was 17.
“Resilience” is what Rashad most remembers about his brother. “Everything he had to go through. He really took it day by day. Some days he didn’t feel like doing something, but he had a big smile on his face every day. . . . I take something from that.”
“We feel for everyone that is touched by the devastation of cancer. It is without question why we do what we do,” Dultuh Trading Cure Bowl Executive Director and Orlando Sports Foundation CEO Alan Gooch said. “Every day we live our mission to bring teams together to find a cure for cancer.”
While Wisdom has the chance to experience Orlando – and Universal Studios – for the first time, he won’t have the opportunity to play on Friday. His 2022 season ended prematurely with a knee injury.
Next fall, by taking advantage of the NCAA’s so-called “Covid year,” he’ll re-do his senior season with an eye on developing his talent for a chance to play in the NFL in 2024.
Wisdom was a first-team All-Conference USA defender as a sophomore and a junior. Since getting hurt, he has focus on the studious side of football.
“My favorite part is getting my hands on the ball and just being out there to make the right checks,” he said. “In our defense, the safeties are the ones who control the defense. I am glad to take that on, make sure everybody is in the right position.”
Before getting hurt, he recorded 27 tackles, one pass breakup and one forced fumble. The numbers were down from his sophomore and junior seasons. As a junior, he led the Roadrunners in tackles (88) and was second in pass breakups (six). As a sophomore, he had a team-leading 95 tackles and four interceptions.
He credits part of the drop-off to a lack of opportunities: offenses started throwing away from him. But before he got hurt, Wisdom was often covering the opponent’s top receiver. He was also central to the UTSA’s run support.
Watching from the sidelines has given Wisdom a new perspective on playing defense. He sees games as he imagines coaches see them – during the game and in preparation for the next opponent.
He considers how next week’s opponent will offer new receiving pass-route combinations to attack UTSA’s defense. That leads him to consider weak points in the Roadrunners scheme and how to shore them up.
“Everyone is a piece of the puzzle,” he said, “and everyone has a job. You have to execute at a high level as well.”
A cyber security major, Wisdom sees himself running his own business, building something special. “Have a nice office on the top floor,” he said.
He’s already participating in one business. During Bryce’s recovery, the Wisdom family started a foundation, Bryce Strong, with the mission of bringing “awareness, assistance and resources to adolescent cancer warriors” and their families. After returning home from Orlando, Rashad and his mom, dad (Diana and Richard Wisdom), along with Sean, will hand out toys and other gifts to kids who find themselves in situations similar to what Bryce was in.
“I feel we take it for granted sometimes,” Wisdom said. “It could be anybody’s time [today]. Make the most of the time you have together.”
-DULUTH TRADING CURE BOWL-