It has been almost 10 years since Ish Wainright last played football, but the thought of getting back onto the field never left his mind.
“Football is my first love,” Wainright said. “Now being back on the field is just wow.”
Wainwright said it started in high school when he went on his visit to Baylor.
“I think I met Coach Briles on my visit and he said ‘oh you’d be a good tight end’.
He also visiting to Ohio State and the coach also made a similar comment.
After seeing Former Baylor basketball star Rico Gathers get selected in the 6th round of the 2016 NFL Draft, new Baylor Head Coach Matt Rhule knew if he could land Wainright, it would be a slam dunk.
“He asked if I would come to practice,” he said.
Wainwright told Rhule to give him some time. He took almost two weeks to pray about it and talk with his family.
“My mom fasted for almost a week and we prayed,” he said. “On the phone we prayed, with my dad we prayed.”
He said it was a hard decision but then again he thought that he made the best decision for his life.
Quicker than a bucket in transition, Wainright went from playing in the Sweet Sixteen to playing in pads at McLane Stadium. He said he was nervous once he went through the tunnel.
“I treated it like a basketball game,” he said “Go through the tunnel and you see all the fans that were there.”
Wainwright said after the first incomplete pass and his name was announced, the crowd went wild.
“I was like ‘oh snap, I’m really out here’,” he said.
The crowd cheered even louder the next time Wainright was targeted because he caught a 23-yard touchdown pass.
Unlike in basketball, Wainright will now have to fight for playing time, but thanks to basketball he knows what it’s going to take to earn it.
“I’ve learned that player’s control how much they play so if I work my butt off every day all day,” he said.
Wainright said Coach Rhule can count on him.
“If he wants me to block every play ‘I got you coach’, if he wants me to hop on defense and rush, ‘alright coach whatever you need’,” he said.
Wainright hopes that attitude combined with God-given talent will make him a permanent fixture in Baylor History. He told himself he’s chasing a statue.
“I want a statue,” he said. “I want to be the best.”