Rice coach understands what commitment means
Posted on: February 4, 2012 10:51 am
Edited on: February 5, 2012 2:46 am
Like thousands of other gifted high school football recruits, David Wilganowski and his family probably took a big sigh of relief and celebrated that the madness that has become National Signing Day was finally behind them.
It's around this time--just a few days after colleges announce who they've landed--that we tend to start learning about those other kids, who may have bought into hollow promises only to realize that they've been left out in the margins, squeezed by the world of big-time college sports. It happens so much now that we shrug our shoulders at coaches making cutthroat "business" decisions or when both players and coaches mangle the definition of the word "commitment" that the details behind the 6-4, 230-pound defensive end's signing with the Rice Owls Wednesday should make you smile.
Oh, Wilganowski, like the rest of the recruits who faxed in their letters a few days ago, was a big deal in his hometown. He'd committed to play D1 football on a full scholarship (to Rice) in June. He was a team captain and Homecoming King as a senior and starred in other sports (track and power lifting). The kid from Rudder High School in Bryan, Texas was also Academic All-State and picked the Owls over offers from among others, Army, Navy and Air Force.
Then, Wilganowski's life took a dramatic turn. At the start of Wilganowski's senior season, he collapsed during a game. His heart had given out. Paramedics had to revive him. Wilganowski was diagnosed with something called Long Q-T Syndrome. He had a heart defibrillator implanted into his chest. Doctors informed him his football career was over.
His mom, Susan told Fox Sports Houston she thought there was "no chance" her son would be on an athletic scholarship this fall.
However, Rice head coach David Bailiff remained committed to the kid and to his promise to welcome him as part of the Owls football program. On Wednesday, the coach was proud to announce that Wilganowski was getting that full scholarship.
We ask those young men to commit to us, and we tell them we're gonna be there through thick and thin," Bailiff said. "That's how that works. Your word has to be good."
Sadly, that's something that seems like it's becoming pretty rare these days.