Blog Entry

Rice signs player with heart condition

Posted on: February 5, 2012 2:18 pm
Edited on: February 5, 2012 2:24 pm

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Many of the stories that emerge during National Signing Day don't exactly paint college football -- and its recruiting process, specifically -- in the best of lights. The story of Rice and head coach David Bailiff's signing of Bryan, Texas defensive end David Wilganowski is not one of the stories. 

A 6'4", 230-pound standout for Bryan's Rudder High school, Wilganowski accepted Bailiff's scholarship offer last June and committed to play for the Owls. But as Houston TV station KHOU reports, come Wilganowski's senior season his recruitment was the least of his worries--he collapsed during a September game and nearly died on the field. He was later diagnosed with the heart condition Long Q-T syndrome and had a defibrillator implanted in his chest, ending his football career.

At many schools, Wilganowski likely would have had to find another way to pay for his college education. But Bailiff honored his offer all the same, and Wednesday Wilganowski signed his letter of intent to receive his full football scholarship from the Owls. Though his exact role is still to be determined, Wilganowski said he expects to help with the defensive line.

“I’m going to be a part of the team, but a different part of the team,” he said.

For his part, Bailiff said the decision was simply a matter of showing his recruits the same commitment he expects of them.

“We ask young men to keep their word to us, you know we say we’re going to be with them through thick or thin," he said. "I think it’s a good practice that you keep your word."

So do we--which is why it's a shame that stories like Wilganowski's are the rarity rather than the exception come Signing Day.


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Since: Mar 8, 2011
Posted on: February 6, 2012 12:55 pm

Rice signs player with heart condition

Love hearing these kind of happenings. As mentioned earlier, Auburn did a similar thing a few years ago. Realistically, most of these kids won't play in the pros.  Taking a scholly and giving it to a kid that committed to them and giving him an opportunity to have an education paid for is a class act.   Hopefully Wilganowski realizes the opportunity he was given and makes the best of it.

Since: Jan 3, 2012
Posted on: February 6, 2012 11:54 am

Rice signs player with heart condition

I bet it doesn't happen "all the time" anywhere. That's what makes it interesting & inspiring. The only thing that happens "all the time" in the SEC is National Championships. But there are SEC schools, as there are in most other conferences, that have done similar things for signees. You just can't see them through your C-USA loser-colored classes. Like most Tiger fans here in Memphis, you spend the majority of your time harping on what you're against (that mean old Calipari betrayed us). Have you ever been FOR anything? Or is negativity the only way you can cope with inferiority?

Since: Dec 15, 2009
Posted on: February 6, 2012 9:37 am

Rice signs player with heart condition

Coach Bailiff is a class act.  That's the level of integrity you hope for in a leader.


Since: Jan 5, 2012
Posted on: February 6, 2012 7:16 am

Rice signs player with heart condition

Good for him, what an inspiring story this is!  What an honorable thing for the coach & the school do to to keep Wilganowski an active member of the team!  I hope he has a long & wonderful life!

Since: Nov 9, 2010
Posted on: February 6, 2012 6:57 am

Rice signs player with heart condition

He is lucky he was not offered by Saban and Alabama......

Regarding the SEC: Shon Coleman had cancer, and Auburn stilled signed him and he is still on scholarship.  

Since: Apr 7, 2009
Posted on: February 5, 2012 11:37 pm

Rice signs player with heart condition

Well played, Rice...well played!  This is very inspiring and I commend the character that this coaching staff displayed through this decision.  We need more of this in college football!

Since: Nov 29, 2006
Posted on: February 5, 2012 11:29 pm

Rice signs player with heart condition

I've always admired Rice University football.  Classy story. Rice, traditionally suits up kids that are legitimate college student-athletes and fully literate......that's why they lose. There's just a small handfull of FBS programs with 'standards' and class  anymore that don't aspire to win at all costs. Rice university is one of them.

Since: Feb 5, 2012
Posted on: February 5, 2012 8:39 pm

Rice signs player with heart condition

If I am not mistaken Auburn honored a scholarship offer to a young man out of Mississippi that was diagnosed with cancer
before he started school two yers ago.He is still going to school there.

Since: Oct 20, 2007
Posted on: February 5, 2012 4:41 pm

Rice signs player with heart condition

i bet that happens all the time in the SEC.  (sarcasm)

Since: Sep 20, 2008
Posted on: February 5, 2012 3:16 pm

Rice signs player with heart condition

It's a good thing when commitments actually means something, outstanding Coach there at Rice....!

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