For the first time since World War II, football is back at Texas Wesleyan.
The program was dormant for the last 75 years, but the school decided to bring it back to life. The Rams won’t play in a game until 2017, but the excitement was on display Tuesday afternoon during their first practice on campus. Around 100 student-athletes from across the country ran drills in front of spectators on campus.
“Everybody in town seems excited,” said Texas Wesleyan quarterback Erik Richards. “The history behind it, that’s crazy. It’s been so long since they had a football season and we’re the ones to bring it back. It’s kind of cool, a unique opportunity.”
Texas Wesleyan will play in the NAIA’s Central States Football League. With the program starting from the ground floor, there’s still work to be done, particularly with the facilities. The school is looking into possibly developing a new stadium near the campus. However, the work on the field starts now.
“First week of this is to kind of set a tempo and to kind of set a mindset that we are really going to be out-working people,” said Texas Wesleyan head coach Joe Prud’homme. “We’ve got to start from the bottom. We are going to have very humble beginnings obviously facility-wise. But then you work your way up to where at the end of it, you have that workman-like mentality.”
It’s a dream come true for Prud’homme, who had a successful coaching career in the Texas high school ranks, most recently at Nolan Catholic in Fort Worth. He led the Vikings to 11 TAPPS 5A State Finals and seven state championships in 24 seasons. Now, Prud’homme is a college head coach.
“It was on my bucket list. It was something that I wanted to do,” said Prud’homme. “And to make that jump, and it is a jump, it’s a lot of work but it’s really cool to feel that.”
Texas Wesleyan will have some time to build a program since they are basically starting from scratch. The first home game will be in Week 2 of the 2017 season against Millsaps College (MS). But waiting a year was a necessity.
“I thought it was a good idea, said Prud’homme. “We were too far behind to really field the kind of team we wanted to compete with in the NAIA. We just had to have a chance to put it all together.”
“If we just jumped into a season so quick, it would have been a lot to take in,” added Richards. “I think the extra year will help us in the long run. We’ve got a whole year to get better. When next year rolls around, we’ll be ready to go.”
2017 Football Schedule:
Sept. 2 – TBA (KCAC Oppenent)
Sept. 9 – Millsaps College (MS) – Fort Worth
Sept. 16 – New Mexico Highlands University – Las Vegas, NM
Sept. 30 – Wayland Baptist University – Fort Worth
Oct. 7 – Texas College – Tyler, TX
Oct. 14 – Langston University (OK) – Langston, OK
Oct. 28 – Bacone College – Muskogee, OK
Nov. 4 – Arizona Christian University – Fort Worth
Nov. 11 – Southwestern Assemblies of God University – Fort Worth
Written by C. James