The Ragin’ Cajun football team started fall camp in a normal fashion. Louisiana Head Coach Billy Napier and his players started the camp with a detailed schedule: meetings, practice, repeat. But during a regular meeting on August 12, 2019, sophomore walk-on running back, TJ Wisham received a deserving surprise.
As the Louisiana football team gathered to begin their meeting with Walk-Ons founder and CEO, Brandon Landry. Assuming the meeting was going to go as scheduled, Landry started by asking all the walk-ons to stand up. Ready to take notes on the guest speaker, Wisham closed the notebook in his hand stood up alongside the other walk-ons not knowing what was next. Landry asked for a volunteer with a chosen player already in his mind.
Not knowing that his selection was predestined, Wisham made his way to the front. Landry asked for Wisham’s name and proceeded to impart some wisdom to the Louisiana running back, which would then become Wisham’s reality.
“Keep your head down, keep grinding because you never know when things can change every day, right?” Landry said. “Just like today, things are changing for you.”
As the tone of Laundry switched, Wisham started to realize something special was going on. With a No. 23 Louisiana jersey in hand, the room erupted with screams as Wisham was awarded a scholarship.
Surrounded by his teammates, the emotions of gratitude swept over Wisham as he shouted in happiness over a moment he has been striving for 406 days exactly to the date. Tears streamed down his face as his parents, sister, and brother walked into the meeting room to embrace their son on his newfound accomplishment.
“For two seconds I just stood still, it was exciting and it was a moment I didn’t expect,” Wisham said.
Wisham started his career at Episcopal High School. A Baton Rouge native, Wisham was awarded a two-time All-State linebacker and All-District first-team honors.
In addition to being named district offensive MVP and All-Metro running back, Wisham was named Sports line Player of the Year. Wisham began his collegiate career as a running back for the U.S. Military Academy.
As a true freshman, Wisham decided that it was time to part ways with Army and embark on a new chapter with a new team.
On July 2, 2018, Wisham began his first day as a Ragin’ Cajun. Embracing the culture, Wisham knew the journey to the top of the running back depth chart would be tough, but the 5-foot-10, 220 pounds running back was ready for the challenge.
Wisham describes himself as a tough running back that is hard to tackle and is ready to stick his nose into any play to protect his quarterback and other players. Coupled with his running ability, Wisham is confident in his ability to understand the flow of the offense in game-time situations. Taking pride in his toughness and grit, the running back core for Louisiana also takes pride in their “room” where they discuss and evaluate everything amongst the core.
“In the room, I am an assignment sound guy, I like to know everything. The ins and outs of all the plays,” Wisham said. “So, if coaches decide to plug me in I know everything and I can do everything. I want them to not doubt if they call my name that I will go out and make some plays.”
But this year the “room” has decided to add something to embody their game-changing attributes. For the 2019 season, the group now refers to it as the “showroom” and Wishman is ignited to continue doing the right things for his team no matter the position. Wisham will be a part of the scout team with kickoff return, kickoff, and punt block team. And Coach Napier is not shying away from the fact that if Wisham is called upon, he will perform.
“T.J. is very deserving,” Napier said. “He’s not only a heck of a football player but also an upstanding young man and an outstanding student. We’re excited for his family.”
As the middle child of seven, Wisham is motivated to stay loyal to the process because of his family. Reminiscing on the fact they have been there throughout his difficult journey from walk-on to a scholarship player. Wisham looks to dedicate every rep, practice, and game to them.
“It came down to the type of person I try to be. I believe God places us here on a team in front of people to be an inspiration to other people. I have 3 younger brothers and I try to be an inspiration to them and I know younger kids are watching us,” Wisham said. “They might see the game day on Saturday but they don’t see the Monday through Friday grind. And that’s part of it, if you don’t do the Monday through Friday then Saturday won’t go too well.”
Alongside his on fieldwork ethic, his off the field aspirations are just as commendable. Wisham is an Industrial Technology major looking to open his engineering. With his firm, he wants to contract with plants to work on the efficiency of their machines.
Wisham’s desire to be a well-rounded student-athlete is something he credits Coach Napier for influencing. Because of his meticulous detail to the operations of football, Louisiana running back comparing Coach Napier as an architect that is building something from the ground up. As the architect, Coach Napier is entrusting his players that are the builders to execute the finished product. And with that trust Wisham believes is pushes his level of play every practice.
“When a coach puts you on a scholarship he knows the work you’ve done but he also expects even more. I feel like all the coaches they watch practice and expect a level of play from me and that pushes me even harder. The scholarship is one thing but to be able to perform and help the team out is another.”
Now, Wisham is looking to execute another operation. It has been a year since Wisham has suited up for a college game day. And he is eager to put on his Ragin’ Cajun jersey on August 31, 2019, as Louisiana will be facing Mississippi State in New Orleans for their Season Opener.