After dealing with nagging knee injuries and multiple surgeries during his four previous seasons at Duke University, Anthony Young-Wiseman, a 2009 Walt Whitman High School, made his second collegiate football start on Sept. 21.
The Blue Devils lost the game to the University of Pittsburgh, but for the redshirt senior safety, the feeling of playing an entire game from start to finish at Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham, N.C. was a long time coming.
“It had been awhile since I played a full football game,” Wiseman said. “I had a fun time. … I felt like I played well, but there’s room for improvement.”
Added Duke defensive backs coach Derek Jones. “He understands what we’re trying to do and he’s now just able to use his full ability. ... When you are hurt it’s hard to execute when you don’t have full strength or the ability to be able to run, plant and change directions. It’s light years different now.”
During preseason drills prior to his true freshman season in 2009, Wiseman tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee and was immediately placed behind the proverbial eight-ball because his development mentally and physically on the field had to be delayed. He successfully rehabilitated the injury, but suffered another setback in the same knee late during the 2010 season after playing just 98 snaps off the bench. In 2011, he played in all 12 games (351 snaps) and made one start against Florida State. Wiseman, who has also had to deal with a cyst in his knee, was in and out of the lineup during the 2012 season, participating in eight games (210 snaps), before tearing his lateral meniscus, but was able to return for the Belk Bowl (a 48-34 loss to Cincinnati), Duke’s first bowl appearance since the 1995 Hall of Fame Bowl.
“Anthony’s college career hasn’t gone as planned, but he’s never complained,” Jones said. “… I’m glad he can go full speed and trust himself playing now. We see the real Anthony now.”
Wiseman, who made just one start in 29 previous game appearances prior to this fall, totaling 37 tackles (15 solo) and one sack, hopes to make his final season in a Duke uniform (3-2) a memorable one. In five games this fall, the 6-foot-0, 220-pound Wiseman has recorded 28 tackles, including 12 in his starts.
After all, he was part of coach David Cutcliffe’s second recruiting class in hopes of turning the struggling program around.
“I’m feeling healthy and this is the first time I’ve been able to participate … and not have to hold back some or limit myself,” said Wiseman, who is majoring in evolution anthropology. “… A weight is off my back and I can focus on actually playing.”
“I think [coming back healthy this fall] has just been kind of a reawakening for him,” Jones said. “As a coach you root for your guys.”