McNeese State quarterback Will Briscoe. (American Press Archives)
Last Modified: Tuesday, September 10, 2013 7:59 PM
Over the past three years, the phrase “Will Briscoe takes a knee” usually meant there was some sort of surgical procedure involved.
On Saturday night against Arkansas-Pine Bluff, it meant he was actually on the field for the first time in a career that has continually derailed before it could get started. Briscoe played the whole fourth quarter, though his only officially registered stat came from kneeling the final seconds off the clock.
“There’s no question it was a great moment,” said McNeese head coach Matt Viator.
Though he never passed the ball in the 58-14 blowout win, simply playing for the first time since 2009, when he was a high school senior at Baton Rouge Central was enough of a reward for now.
“It felt good to get on the field and take a snap for the first time since high school,” he said. “It’s a process. You have to take it step by step, day by day, and that’s what I’m doing now. Just to get through August camp and get in a few plays a game.”
The people around Briscoe are much more proud of the accomplishment than he is.
Sitting atop that list is his twin brother Wes, who is two years ahead of Will in eligibility despite being born on the same day.
“It’s been tough seeing him battle through all the ACLs and all the rehabs,” said Wes, a senior receiver. “It was nice to see him back on the field. It was one of the top moments since I’ve been here, actually seeing him on the field instead of on crutches.”
Will has endured multiple surgeries on both of his knees. The most recent, following another anterior cruciate ligament tear in the 2012 spring game, was probably the point when most people would have walked away for good.
Cowboys starting quarterback Cody Stroud admitted as much, saying he might not have made it even that far.
“He hung in it longer than I would have,” Stroud said. “I probably would have hung it up after two or three. He’s shown great dedication. You have to love the game if you’re going to stay through all that. It was great to see him get on the field. It’s been a long time coming.”
Will said the key to rehabbing each time was keeping a positive attitude.
“It’s crossed my mind a couple times to maybe hang it up, but it’s tough to walk away from a game that you love,” he said. “Not having played yet, I have it in the back of my mind to get on the field and prove myself.
“Being positive is the only way to get through it. If you start being down on yourself, that’s when you think ‘I need to hang it up.’ Having teammates, my brother, my coach all behind me also makes it a lot easier.”
His attitude is so unflinchingly optimistic that it’s been the thing that has gotten his own coach through the frustration of the repeated injuries.
“I credit his attitude throughout the whole thing. It has been a lot better than mine,” Viator said. “His setbacks have torn us up more than it tore him up, thankfully.
“The last one I showed up at the hospital at about 5:45 in the morning on the way to work. He was smiling, ‘Hey coach, how’s it going?’ and here I am about to run off the road thinking about him and the position he was in.
“So it’s a credit to his attitude. He jokes and says he’ll have a doctorate by the time he’s finished playing. His attitude throughout this whole thing has been remarkable.”