Running back Quardraiz Wadley was tied to teammate Adrian Hynson with rope during one of the final spring workouts, trying to best him in a drill best described as one-on-one tug of war. Then, his foot popped.
The trainers saw his toe snap out of its socket, and tried to push it back into place. He tried getting up and walking on it, but to no avail. Soon, his entire foot started to swell up. His senior season was over before it began.
“It was real frustrating because I felt like I had gotten my body where I wanted it to be,” Wadley said. “My physicals were good, my mentals were good, I was just ready to get back out there.”
Instead, UTEP’s projected top player on offense had to undergo foot surgery and spend the next six months trying to get back to where he started. It was a frustrating break for a running back that seemed right on the edge of a breakout moment.
Many upperclassmen would have flirted with the transfer portal, or even considered retiring from football after getting their degree. But even as he was unceremoniously forced into a redshirt season, Wadley’s focus was solely on leading by example and supporting his teammates.
“His mindset never left the program,” UTEP offensive coordinator Mike Canales said. “He was always around in meetings, always encouraging the guy at practice. This guy is invested in this program.”
The unfortunate injury gave Wadley a rare fresh start. The senior dealt with injuries for most of his career, and had to play with an underdeveloped roster. The 2020 season features the most complete offense of the Dimel era – and Wadley is ready to take center stage.
To help solidify his new mindset, Wadley switched his jersey from No. 4 to No. 2. It’s the same number he wore at Kennedale High School when he ran for 2,511 yards and 45 touchdowns as a high school senior. More importantly, it’s a tribute to his friend Luke Laufenberg, who lost his battle with leukemia before the 2019 season.
“I think it’s going to give me a little reminder of what to play for and who to play for, and to not take it for granted because this is ultimately my last shot,” Wadley said. “I’m going to give it all I’ve got.”
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