Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

How a Plant football player scored a scholarship without game film or playing time

TAMPA — Nine Plant High players were at One Buccaneer Place for an elaborate signing day ceremony Wednesday. They each went up to a podium to talk about what it means to be able to play in college.

For Malik Bradshaw, signing his letter of intent to play at Iowa Central Community College means three meals a day — and a stable residence.

"It truly is a blessing," he said.

In the past two years, the 5-foot-9, 160-pound wide receiver/defensive back had a vagabond life. His father has been in jail for nearly four years. His mother tried to support five children on her own.

She wound up in jail last year, too.

That left the children to survive on their own. They bounced from place to place, sleeping on a coach, a floor — wherever they could find space. Bradshaw's older brother Scoop made it out. He signed last year with Syracuse.

Malik Bradshaw hoped for similar results. Football was supposed to be his sanctuary.

That also was taken away.

Bradshaw's grades suffered to the point where he was academically ineligible his senior season. Bradshaw watched from the sidelines as the Panthers went on a magical run, going undefeated in the regular season and reaching the Class 7A state championship game.

Despite his academic struggles, Plant coach Robert Weiner did not cast Bradshaw aside. Weiner continued to let him practice with the team.

Bradshaw is smart, as evidenced by his 1060 SAT score. But his grades suffered because of other distractions in his life.

"Malik got into some tough times and he had to prioritize things in his life," Weiner said. "When you're just trying to survive and make it from day to day, grades become a secondary thing. We can stand outside and be judgmental and say grades are the most important thing. Sometimes just living and surviving is more important."

Bradshaw, 18, was a solid practice player, even outperforming some of the veteran players on the team. But he never had true playing time on varsity. That meant he had no film to send to college coaches.

Months passed with no offers. Two weeks ago, Weiner was getting enough interest from the coaching staff at Iowa Central Community College in Fort Dodge, Iowa. There was no film to offer. No matter. The school offered based on Weiner's recommendation.

"I've known Coach Weiner for a while, and I put a lot of value in his opinion and what he has to say," said Iowa Central coach Kevin Twait, who has been with the program for 19 years. "Coach spoke very highly of Mailk. He went through a tough situation but kept showing up. It touches the heart.

"We're taking a leap of faith. But good things happen to good people, and we're going to see if we can make this a win-win situation."

Said Weiner, "Malik was dealt a tough blow, and he realized he wasn't going to be able to play. He had a choice to make whether he was going to be a part of something special that was going to add to his life or he was just going to let that go.

"A lot of us make decisions later in life that put us in this direction or that direction. Sometimes when you're 17, 18 years old, it's your time to make those decisions. He made a decision to take a different road, one that is going to put him on a path to success where he'll not only be a productive citizen but a productive husband and father and someone who contributes to all those around him in a positive way."

In all, Plant had 10 signees. Linebacker Thomas Allen, the Tampa Bay Times All-Hillsborough County defensive player of the year, enrolled early at Indiana but spoke to his teammates via cell phone.

The other signees in attendance were Davis Bak (Brown), Juwan Burgess (Indiana), Bryce Jenkins (Wesleyan), Aaron King (Valparaiso), Whop Philyor (Indiana), Jamil Thomas (Ferris State), Kyle Trina (preferred walk-on at USF) and Christian Watson (North Dakota State).

There will be more, including quarterback Dane Frantzen.

None of them was as happy as Bradshaw to find a home.

"You go through the opportunity to coach someone like Malik and get to this day and you look and say this is the reason why I chose to be a coach," Weiner said, "There was enough persistence on his part and perseverance that anything can happen."

How a Plant football player scored a scholarship without game film or playing time 02/02/17 [Last modified: Thursday, February 2, 2017 11:08pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rays journal: Archer has strong outing, with two mistakes

    The Heater

    TORONTO — Two pitches RHP Chris Archer didn't execute are the ones that stood out Thursday as Josh Donaldson hit them out of the park. But the two solo home runs aside, Archer turned in a sterling outing that went atop the pile of good pitching the Rays keep wasting.

    Rays starting pitcher Chris Archer (22) works during the first inning. [Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP]
  2. Tim Tebow continues wowing fans as he wraps up bay area games

    Minors

    CLEARWATER — Tracey Fritzinger has seen Tim Tebow play baseball a few times this year. The 40-year-old St. Petersburg resident went to two of his games against the Tampa Yankees, along with Joy, her little sister from Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.

    St. Lucie Mets outfielder Tim Tebow, middle, hangs out in the dugout during the first inning of Thursday night’s game against the Clearwater Threshers at Spectrum Field.
  3. Rays vs. Mariners, 7:10 Friday, Tropicana Field

    The Heater

    Tonight: vs. Mariners

    7:10, Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun, 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Austin Pruitt (50) in the dugout during the ninth inning of the game between the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays on Opening Day at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, April 2, 2017. The Tampa Bay Rays beat the New York Yankees 7-3.
  4. Rays waste repeated opportunities in 5-3 loss to Blue Jays (w/video)

    The Heater

    TORONTO — The signs of frustration were readily apparent as the Rays trudged toward home Thursday after another game littered with squandered opportunities evolved into another wasted day in the wild-card race with a 5-3 loss to the Blue Jays.

    Rays reliever Tommy Hunter reacts as Justin Smoak circles the bases after hitting a go-ahead two-run home run in the eighth.
  5. Confederate statue: Why Bucs, Lightning, Rays took a stand

    Bucs

    They didn't want another Charlottesville.

    Marc Rodriguez, a member of the "Florida Fight for $15" organization, stands in protest along with other activists demanding the Confederate  monument be removed from the old Hillsborough County Courthouse in Tampa. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]