Sept. 23, 2009
What: New Mexico State at Lobos
When/Where: 8 p.m. Saturday, University Stadium
Radio: 770 KKOB-AM, Lobo Radio Network
TV: The Mtn (Comcast 276, DirecTV 616)
Online: GameTracker; game story on GoLobos.com
By Richard Stevens -- Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
When it comes to responsibilities, Lobo Kendall Briscoe goes far beyond the Xs and Os thrown out by Coach Mike Locksley. Briscoe only has to look down at his ring finger to be reminded of real-life demands.
When it comes to assignments, avoiding that pulling guard or getting to that bullish fullback isn't such a big deal for Briscoe. The assignment that comes at 3 a.m. in the morning is on a higher scale - one that will last a lifetime.
The ring finger represents Luella Briscoe, his high school sweetheart, who became his wife in February of 2008. The early-morning assignment is a sometimes-demanding three-month-old. Makaela Briscoe doesn't care much about whether daddy gobbles up an Aggie on Saturday or not. She is more concerned about her intake or maybe the condition of her diaper.
"It can be tough, but I'm pretty tough," said the 6-foot-1, 280-pound defensive tackle. "Makaela can be a little cranky sometimes, and I've missed a few classes staying up late. But we're making it."
Despite what some fans might think, it's not all fun and games being a major-college athlete. You have full-time studies. You have a full-time job, in this case, called football. Briscoe's load is even heavier. He wears at least four hats: student, athlete, husband, father.
He says he hardly feels the weight.
"Life is good. I thank God for giving me the opportunity to be a father," said Briscoe. "On bad days, I can go home and hold my daughter and that's the best pain killer you can find."
Coach Locksley knows what Briscoe is going through. Locks had similar demands when he was in college trying to support a family.
"When you make choices to do that, something has to be sacrificed and that's usually your social life," said Locksley. "When spring ball was done for me, I was hanging drywall. Being a father quickly teaches you what's important in life and how there are people depending on you to be successful. It`s a wake-up call."
Obviously, Briscoe isn't your typical college kid looking to massage a little bit of youthful fun around the goal of getting an education. "I remember asking Coach (Rocky) Long if I could work out early in order to make it to the court house on time," he said. "Coach said OK."
When he and Luella marched down to see the judge, it was with a shared intent to form a relationship within the boundaries of their homegrown beliefs. "We wanted to live the right way," said Briscoe. "We were anxious to get married and we were ready. But we wanted to do it right."
The Kendall/Luella Love Story kind of began even before elementary school when Kendall was on a youth football team and Luella was a cheerleader and friend of Kendall's sister. "We've know each other since we were four, maybe five," he said. They drifted apart in their middle school years when they went to different schools. They hooked up again at Dallas Lincoln High.
"It's kind of a Cinderella story," said Kendall.
Well, maybe. But Kendall is no Prince Charming on the football field. He has 21 tackles going into Saturday's New Mexico State game, 5.5 tackles for a loss. Briscoe has a face that a smile can light up like a Christmas bulb. When he scowls, you look for a rock to hide under. Locksley said his big senior has a maturity that comes with age and outside responsibilities.
"He's like a grandfather out there," said Locksley. "He has the old soul, that old aura about him. He`s good for the younger kids because they see how he`s made important decisions in his life and how he is living up to those commitments."
There has been a bit of hurting around the University of New Mexico football fields thanks to a biting 0-3 record. But Briscoe also knows that hard times can produce lasting strengths when you go to battle with good people you respect or love.
"Life is good. On bad days, I can go home and hold my daughter and that's the best pain killer you can find."
Lobo Senior DT Kendall Briscoe
Briscoe also was surrounded by love and chose to embrace it rather than rebel from it. He plans to stick to the straight and narrow as a father and as a husband, too.
"I`ve seen some of my relatives, my parents, have trouble in their marriages," he said. "I`ve always told myself that life can be trouble enough without adding to it. I`ve seen the bad side of relationships and I'm not that kind of man."
Briscoe says, "I've always been tough." That could apply to Briscoe on the football field, but he was referring to his emotional side. He said he gained some of that inner strength one day when the family was on a fishing day and an ailing aunt fainted.
"I was about 15," he said. "I had to carry her back to the dock area where the ambulance would come to get to her. She was always sick. She had open-heart surgery and was on dialysis. My auntie was only 140 pounds, but she was heavy that day. She was gone before the ambulance got to her.
"I felt the need to be strong for my family after that. They had helped me through a lot of things and it was my turn to be there for them."
Briscoe said when he graduates from UNM he plans to return to the Dallas area, bring Luella and Makaela closer to home and family. He says he plans to be strong for them. He plans to be strong for his Lobos on Saturday.
Editor's Note: Richard Stevens is a former Associate Sports Editor and sports columnist for The Albuquerque Tribune. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Previous GoLobo.com articles can be found on The Richard Stevens Corner.