Friday, September 18, 2009
On October 26, 1974 my next door neighbor was the star running back for TCU. Kent Waldrep.
TCU played Alabama at Legion Field in Birmingham that afternoon.
On a sweep called "Red Right, Power 28", Kent was instructed to keep it wide and not turn it inside.
Alabama defended it well.
Kent landed on his head on the artificial turf.
He suffered a serious spinal cord injury. His life changed in that instant.
Kent has since been an inspirational champion for spinal cord research, a motivational speaker, a great husband and the father of two fine sons.
Coach Bear Bryant took special interest in Kent's life after the injury.
One of Coach Bryant's legacies is the creation of the Bear Bryant Scholarship. Every child of any player that played for him or coach that coached for him was eligible to get a scholarship to the University of Alabama.
Because of the special relationship Coach Bryant and Alabama have had with Kent over the years, the University made a special exception for both of the Waldrep boys who were awarded Bear Bryant Scholarships and now attend Alabama.
This Saturday, another Texas team plays Alabama.
The University of North Texas Mean Green will take on the 4th ranked Crimson Tide at Bryant Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa.
Before 92,000 screaming fans, a quiet young man will start his first game at quarterback for UNT.
We've known Nathan for years. He went to high school and played football and basketball with my youngest son.
He is a great athlete.
He has been to our house dozens of times.
I don't think I have ever heard him say a word.
He is just a quiet, disciplined, determined, competitive young man.
He walked on at UNT. He has waited patiently for his chance to play.
And tomorrow, he gets his opportunity.
His proud mom and dad will be amongst those 92,000.
So will the Waldreps. Whose sons know Nathan and played football with him as well.
I've got goosebumps thinking about.
Tomorrow in Tuscaloosa, another great story will be written and more lives will be changed.