By: Sammy Clough, Columnist
In the midst of his standout senior season, running back Antonio Wilcox and the Furman Paladins find themselves in striking distance of the Southern Conference title with just two games left in the season.
A long road of football adversity has gotten Wilcox to the career year he has put together for the Paladins in his final season in purple and white.
A running back out of Fitzgerald, Georgia, Wilcox has not had a long history of football to bolster his collegiate identity. He did not begin playing football until he was a junior at Fitzgerald High School, and when he first broke into the game, he primarily played safety, while experimenting on the offensive side of the ball as well.
After sparse Division One recruitment, Wilcox made a last-minute decision to take his talents to Greenville, South Carolina and play for the Furman Paladins.
Before his freshman season had even begun, a series of injuries on the team forced Wilcox to move exclusively to offense and become a running back for the Paladins.
After three seasons of disappointing team results, Wilcox now finds himself and the Paladins with a winning record under new head coach Clay Hendrix.
Hendrix’s energy and enthusiasm has led to greatly improved success this season.
“We have a joy and excitement we’ve never had before,” said Wilcox regarding the Paladins’ recent winning streak. Wilcox described this year’s team as a “brotherhood” and stressed that it’s easier to be a team when you are with “the people you love” on the field.
These familial ideals have played a significant role in Wilcox’s football career, and this teamwork on both sides of the ball has given the Paladins a balanced, unified team.
Wilcox is a true leader on the team while maintaining a reputation as an easy-going guy. He has worn the number 25 throughout his collegiate career and states his reasoning as, “that’s the number they gave me.” Wilcox said.
Likewise, he prepares for games a little differently than his teammates, stating, “I’m not really into the rap stuff.” Instead, Wilcox gets ready to go to battle for the Paladins by listening to How Great is Our God before taking the field.
With just two games left in the regular season, Wilcox has begun to reflect on his time at Furman. Discipline and consistency are two things he believes are crucial to the Furman experience not just for athletes, but students as well.
Looking back on his 37 games and counting in purple and white, Wilcox fondly remembers the homecoming victory this season against Mercer as his favorite game. Running for three of the Paladin’s four touchdowns in the 28-21 win against the Bears, Wilcox recalls how well Furman “fought together as a team.”
Wilcox continued his stellar play against the Western Carolina Catamounts on Saturday, Oct. 28. His 21 rush attempts and career high 202 rushing yards led to the Paladins to their sixth consecutive victory, defeated the Catamounts 28-7.
The Furman Paladins will need to continue fighting as they close the season against both SoCon opponents, The Citadel and the Samford Bulldogs, in an effort to claim their first Southern Conference title in four years.
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