By Kevin Wilson
Four years ago, most college football coaches wouldn’t have taken a shot at Wayne Childs. Now it’s Childs who takes the shots.
A senior defensive end, Childs had medical problems that made him unattractive to everybody but Eastern New Mexico University. He’s part of a unit whose goal is to win the Lone Star Conference, the same goal it sets every season.
Childs is one of the most talkative players on the field, but he’s quiet and reserved off of it. He sat down for a few questions Friday afternoon on the ENMU campus.
He is majoring in history and would like to coach one day.
What was your upbringing like? Where did you go to high school?
I was born in Brownfield, moved around West Texas most of my life — Dad was in the oil field. I graduated from Odessa Permian.
Was it strange going to school at the high school that was center stage for “Friday Night Lights”?
I never knew any difference. I never read it until I moved there in eighth grade. It’s needless, but everybody talks about it.
Did you hit a growth spurt at any time?
Not really. I was always just bigger than everybody. Then when I got to college, everybody was the same size.
At what point did you know you would be playing college football?
I really didn’t know. I had a stomach ailment in high school. I reported here at about 190, 200 pounds and not a lot of people were willing to take a risk on me because I threw up all the time.
Luckily, Coach (Bud) Elliott stuck his neck out and offered me a scholarship, and he’s the only one who recruited me. (Childs is now 6-foot-4, 250).
So in that sense, you feel a great loyalty to him.
I owe everything I’ve done to Coach Elliott. The education I’m getting, being able to play.
What was your first year at ENMU like? There’s always a transition period, both on and off the field.
School wasn’t that tough to adjust to. Football is a big change when you first come in. It’s a lot faster. People are twice as big, twice as strong. I played a little, played enough to letter.
How much have you grown since that year?
You can’t even measure. I’m not even the same person I was when I first came here.
This is your senior year, and you’re one of the leaders on the defensive unit. With Cale Sanders’ injuries and the graduations of a lot of players, most notably Heath Ridenour and Taryll Boxton, do you feel the defense has to shoulder the responsibility?
It’s always the responsibility. Offense wins games, defense wins championships. It’s just when they’re down, we have to pick them up the same way they’ve always picked us up when we’re down.
This year they’ll come through even though they’re young. They’ll come through in the clutch just like they did last week. The option (offense) is just “wait and see.” It’s just how long we’re willing to battle and give them a chance. That’s what happened last week at Alamosa.
Let’s go back to the stomach ailment. What have doctors told you about the ailment?
They don’t know. I still do it from time to time. I’ve seen doctors from all over the place and they don’t really know.
How did it affect you in high school?
I lost 50 pounds in high school. My junior year, I was 250. I got sick and by the end of (football season), I was 195. I tried to quit after my junior year because I was tired of throwing up all the time, but other players kept me on the team.
How does it change your diet and exercise habits?
All I can eat before practice is a sandwich or two. Can’t eat anything spicy … anything that tastes good, I can’t eat before practice. I just have to watch what I eat.
During the offseason it doesn’t matter, but during the season I have to be real conscientious of what I eat.
What’s a pre-game meal on Saturday like?
Usually chicken or something light — a couple of ham sandwiches, something bland. It gets old after a few weeks, but it’s better than throwing up all the time.
You plan to coach someday. If you ever coach a kid in a situation similar to what you went through, what would you tell him?
You can’t let it bother you. You have to make up your mind. I knew if I quit football, I’d quit throwing up. You have to make up your mind … if it’s worth it to you, and it was worth it to me. It’s gotten me a free education, which I can’t gripe about.